Friday, December 20, 2013

Merry Christmas!

When my cousin was small, I knit him a Christmas stocking. When he married, I knit a stocking for his wife. Last year, when their third child was born, I knit a Christmas stocking for my newest cousin. Since then my uncle (the grandfather) has been after me to knit stockings for the older children. He gave me very dramatic sob stories about these poor, sad, stocking-less children. Actually, the children were not stocking-less; they just did not have stockings from me. So, with a sigh, I set off on more stockings.

Both stockings are made from Cascade 220, in green (8894), red (9404), blue (7818), and white (8505). Kate’s stocking also has some sparkly pink yarn from somewhere. I used US4 needles for the plain rounds and US5 for the pattern rounds because I tend to knit more tightly with two colors (probably because I do not do it that often and cannot manage my tension as well as with plain knitting). I prefer that the gauge on stockings to be a little tighter than on other knitting.

The designs I chose are from a variety of sources: a free Cascade stocking pattern; Eli’s Christmas Stocking by Meg Swansen, Schoolhouse Press Pattern #10; and Complete Book of Traditional Fair Isle Knitting by Sheila McGregor.

And here are all five stockings.

Fortunately, I was not asked to knit a stocking for the dog.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

For Bonnie

Earlier this year, in March, we went to Hood River and The Dalles in Oregon with our friends Bonnie and Richard for some wine research. We also paid a visit to Sporfarm to meet Patty’s Shetland sheep and shop in Patty’s studio. I told Bonnie and Richard I would knit a scarf or hat for each of them with their yarn selection. Richard chose a nice reddish yarn for a hat. Bonnie could not decide between two yarns so I told her to buy both.

After some consultation, Bonnie chose two of my favorite scarf patterns to highlight the beautiful colors in the yarns. One was a basic bow-tie scarf and the other the Landscape scarf.

We already are talking about another wine research trip in 2014. No doubt yarn will be involved as well.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Library Expansion

My good friends at Amazon often notify me of knitting books they are sure I need in my library. Often, they are books I already have in my library or books that I do not want in my library.

But this one — this one! — caught my eye. I have five other Tessa Lorant books, but I had never seen this one. It is a facsimile reprint of the original.

The book describes these Victorian quilts, which we might call counterpanes or bedspreads. The designs range from relatively simple to quite complex. Many have puffed leaf motifs. The book also has a few pretty edgings. Everything is written out, no charts, but they should be easy enough to chart.

Will I make a bedspread? No. But the designs would make beautiful pillows or bags or an heirloom baby coverlet or lap robe. They may even be suitable for incorporation into a shawl or sweater.

The book directed me to the publisher’s website, The Thorn Press. There I found another book I had never heard of and that I must have, Knitted Lace Doilies. Looking around the Internet, I see copies are few and far between — and very expensive.

But the website states that the the publisher plans to publish facsimile editions of the Heritage of Knitting books, including the doily book, and invites people to indicate interest in any of the titles. I sent my e-mail immediately: Please reprint the doily book.

And who should respond? Tessa Lorant Warburg her very self. Wow! What a thrill to have an e-mail exchange with someone I have admired for some years.

She made no promises about when the doily book might be published, but I am hoping for sooner instead of later.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Australia Stash

I just returned from three weeks in Australia, first to attend Savour Australia, and then for some vacation and stash enhancement. The stash enhancement was limited because I was looking for Australian yarn made in Australia. Still lots of sheep in Australia, and lots of Australian wool, but not much Australian-made yarn. I was told that most Australian yarn mills have closed, and that the Australian wool is processed in China (as it is at Morris & Sons, very nice shops in Melbourne and Sydney) and perhaps other places. Some people said you could sometimes find some hand-spun at local markets but I was not that lucky. But I am very happy with my small Aussie stash.

This silk was an unexpected surprise. I found it at an art show at the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens. Elizabeth Calnan is best known as a weaver and also dyes silk yarns. Her weaving is gorgeous (be sure to look at the gallery on her web site). This skein is 1,000 meters of 20/2 hand-dyed mulberry silk. Love the colors.

Another purchase was this hand-dyed DK-weight yarn from augustbird in the Adelaide Hills (Adelaide Hills also has some great wineries). I bought the yarn not in the Adelaide Hills but at the Stash Cupboard in Hobart, Tasmania. The yarn is 80% superwash merino, 10% cashmere, 10% nylon. Love the colors of this one too. Stash Cupboard did have some nice DK and fingering yarn produced in Tasmania but the colors did not sing to me, especially after seeing the augustbird colors.

Then, surprise of all surprises, size 100 thread, found in the unlikeliest of stores, Spotlight in Adelaide. Spotlight sells yarn and thread, plus all sorts of craft and home supplies. The yarn section was comparable maybe to Hobby Lobby, JoAnn, and Michael’s — nothing very exciting. Then I found the thread section, with loads and loads of threads, including the elusive size 100. Score!

In Melbourne, I was referred to L’uccello, a shop with all sorts of beautiful vintage items. It is the kind of shop that has so many interesting things you could spend all day exploring buttons, threads, ribbons, laces, and things you did not know you might really need. I had to buy these vintage Australian knitting needles, size 4mm.

Australian yarn shops are stocked with many familiar brands, such as Noro, Arucania, and Schoppel Wolle. The prices are a few dollars more per skein than you would expect to pay in the United States. But it is always fun to look, and all of the shopkeepers I met were extremely nice and helpful, as were the other Australians we met.

Overall, a successful wine-and-wool tour to Australia.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

On the Hitchhiker Bandwagon

It appears that a lot of us like the Hitchhiker scarf by Martina Behm. Ravelry shows more than 11,000 Hitchhiker scarves, which is perfectly understandable. Even though the pattern is relatively simple, watching the color changes keeps the knitting interesting (I admit that sometimes it does not take much to keep me entertained). I first saw a Hitchhiker in person at my knitting guild, and pretty soon, lots of Hitchhikers showed up at guild show-and-share time.

Mine is made from Noro Taiyo Sock Yarn, color 27. Content is 50% cotton, 17% wool, 17% nylon, and 16% silk. It was kind of scratchy to knit with, but once washed and dressed, it is comfortable to wear. I got 37 points out of the 460 yards. Knit on 3.25mm needles.

This was a fun travel project while I was visiting Richmond, Virginia, earlier this year.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Clearing the Closet

When you have been knitting for 50+ years, and when you have a mother who is still knitting, you tend to collect a closet full of knitted goods. This month, I decided to reclaim the closet space so I offered a batch of sweaters to my sister, niece-in-law, and a few friends.These are sweaters that no longer fit or that are way too warm for me to ever wear again.

I decided to post a few of my favorites here. I cannot remember the pattern names, but I bet I can go through the “archive” (that is, the box in the basement that holds the old patterns) and find them.

This vest, for example, was one of my favorites. I love the colors and the way they show off in the design, proving once again that variegated yarn and texture/pattern can work well together if you select the right yarn and the right design. I may have to dive into the archive and make this one again.

My mother knit this one. The body is knit sideways. Although I would not necessarily select these colors myself, I love the way they work together in this design.

I am keeping this one that my mother made. I noticed that I have a lot of rose-colored sweaters and vests among the things I have saved. Not pink, but rose and dark rose. And I thought my favorite color was blue.

This one is not handmade but I love it. It is an Icelandic sweater from Iceland. It is very, very warm. I have no idea when and where I got it.

One thing I have learned from this exercise is that hand-knit sweaters are not “fast fashion.” With a classic design and good quality yarn, they can last forever, or at least 20 or 30 years. What a legacy!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Guernsey Scarf

The first time I saw the Guernsey Wrap, I knew I had to knit it. Then — coincidence? — I came across some Cestari yarn in Portland, Oregon. I have purchased Cestari before in its home state of Virginia but I do not see it often in the Pacific Northwest (although it is supposedly available; I just have to look more closely).
  • Pattern modifications: One less pattern repeat, making more of a scarf than a wrap.
  • Yarn: Cestari Traditional Collection 2-ply, worsted-weight wool in Cranberry; used approximately 305 grams/575 yards. The yarn softens up nicely after washing but is not the easiest to knit with, at least for me.
  • Needles: US6 (4mm)
  • Finished size: 10½ inches by 70½ inches
As with all Brooklyn Tweed patterns I have knit, the instructions were clear and easy to follow. The pattern is charted (yay!).

Saturday, June 29, 2013

More Landscaping

I normally do not knit the same pattern twice in a row. Yes, I have knit maybe dozen Landscape scarves since the pattern was published in 2000 but never twice in a row. However, the stars lined up so that just as I finished the Bluefaced Leicester version (see June 14 post), I bought this yarn during a visit to Richmond, Virginia. After several false starts on other patterns, I was back to Landscape.

The details:
  • Yarn: Cestari fingering; 67% cotton, 25% wool, 8% silk; 190 yards/2 ounces; Sea Shell (the color is deceptive; it looks like off-white but it also has flecks of green, red, and blue).
  • Needles: US5
  • Finished size: 14½ inches back neck length
Of course, I made modifications:
  • Alternating garter and stockinette bands
  • Beads instead of picots (Toho round 6/0 gold-lined rainbow aqua)

Friday, June 14, 2013

Bluefaced Landscape

The Landscape Scarf is one of my go-to patterns when I want to show off some special yarn. And, wowee, is this special. It is Bluefaced Leicester in natural colors from Sporfarm. I purchased it on a trip to The Dalles, Oregon, earlier this year.

Working with it was a dream, so soft. And I love the natural colors and luster. I started with 258 yards and knit nearly every inch of it on US6 needles. I did change the pattern (as I usually do) by alternating garter and stockinette bands. And I made the picots on two stitches instead of three because I thought it looked better.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Pretty Doily

The Lacy Knitters Guild newsletter always has some interesting designs. The Petit Chevalier doily is exceptional in several ways.

First, it is based on a collar pattern by Marianne Kinzel (who calls it the Cavalier Collar). Second, it was adapted into a doily by the great knitter Eugen Beugler for the Lacy Knitters Guild. And, third, the decreases for the feather-and-fan border are done as purl2tog on the front side. I had never seen this version of feather-and-fan before — and I like it!

I knit my doily in DMC Cébélia, size 30, in ecru on US0 (2mm) needles. The doily has 88 rounds. Finished size is approximately 14 inches.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

More Than Just a Hat

More hats. So what is special about these hats? The yarn! They are from Patty at Sporfarm in The Dalles, Oregon.

Vineyard is hand-spun merino, fingering weight. Forest is wool, closer to worsted weight. Sporfarm yarns have beautiful colors and are a joy to knit with. I have a little of each left over that will show up in some other project.

The pattern is Heads are Round, a great, all-purpose top-down hat pattern. They look a little pointy-headed on my “model” but they fit very well on a real head.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

More Shetland Lace

Shetland lace is one of the most beautiful techniques in knitting. This new book, A Legacy of Shetland Lace, is about more than just knitting. It has history, tradition, personal stories, and culture as well as knitting. I especially like the stories of the knitters who have patterns in the book.

The book is great as a stand-alone story of Shetland knitting. But if you love Shetland lace, your library also must include Heirloom Knitting by Sharon Miller; Shetland Lace by Gladys Amedro; and The Art of Shetland Lace by Sarah Don. The new publication is a wonderful addition to our knowledge and love of Shetland lace.

The only problem I have with A Legacy of Shetland Lace is deciding which pattern to knit first.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Deep in the Forest

I do not wear mittens. I do not like stranded knitting. But when I saw these mittens, I had to knit them. I actually knit three mittens. The first one was way too big so I took it out, made some changes, and re-knit it, along with a mate. They are still big but wearable (not that I wear mittens but if I did, I would wear these).

The pattern is Deep in the Forest by Tuulia Salmela. The yarn is Jamieson’s Spindrift in Natural White and Pine.

Now the changes I made: Provisional cast-on of 60 stitches on 2mm needles. Completed the cuff, folded it, removed the provisional cast-on and knit the two ends of the cuff together. Then I  knit 1 round, increasing to 70 stitches. At this point, I changed to 2.5mm needles and knit the rest of the mitten as written.

I did not find the chart difficult to follow, but I did copy and increase the chart to 11” x 17” paper.

I really like the Latvian braid at the cuff. I would use this again sometime, maybe on a hat? I wear hats. But not mittens.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Another Wine and Wool Tour

A long weekend in the Columbia Gorge area of Oregon resulted in great finds in wine and wool.

We toured several vineyards in The Dalles, some of which had been pruned and some that were scheduled for pruning soon. Most of the vineyards are set in gorgeous areas surrounded my mountains (although Mount Hood was shrouded in clouds) and by acres and acres of cherry, pear, and apple trees. I would love to go back when the fruit trees are blossoming.

We also had a chance to taste some great Columbia Gorge wines, particularly wines from The Pines 1852 and Viento.

Now to the wool side of the trip. We met several fiber critters: alpacas at Foothills Yarn & Fiber in Hood River and  Sporfarm in The Dalles. Foothills is new to me and I am excited to try the yarn. I have purchased yarn from Sporfarm for many years and have enjoyed every stitch. We also visited Knot Another Hat in Hood River.

Top: alpacas at Foothills
Below: Shetland sheep at Sporfarm
Left to right: Noro (on sale!) from Knot Another Hat;
alpaca from Foothills; and from Sporfarm, wool in Forest,
merino in Vineyard, and natural shades of
Blue-Faced Leicester
We also enjoyed the scenery along the Gorge, which is ― well, gorgeous ― such as this view from our hotel near sunset on a cloudy day. The next day the mountains had a dusting of snow.

Guess I need to stop talking and start knitting!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Jessica’s Shawl

We were delighted in 2011 when my nephew Ryan introduced his bride-to-be to our family. We were especially delighted (and slightly scared) that she seemed to fit right in. I offered to knit a shawl for her — not specifically a wedding shawl but a shawl in honor of her wedding. After electronic discussion, she chose exactly what I hoped she would choose: a Faroese shawl made from a red yarn that I had purchased in Italy.

The yarn: Pura Lana Zephir from Albozzi Filati Alma, Torino, Italy; 2/25; 1,250 meters/100 grams. The color is red most of the time, but in some lights looks like a deep magenta/rose. The shop has a huge selection (as you can see from the Web site) and the yarn is beautiful. If/when I return to Torino, I will definitely buy more.

The pattern is Barbara, from Stahman’s Scarves and Shawls by Myrna Stahman. I used 3.25mm needles. The only change I made to the shawl was to attach the border with an SSK instead of a K2tog. Just my preference.

Jessica tried on the shawl before it was finished to check the length.

The shawl used about 1,100 yards. With the remainder, I made a scarf for Jessica using Sivia Harding’s Little Leaf Lace Scarf pattern, one of my favorites for relatively small amounts of yarn. Finished size is 5 inches by 68 inches.

Jessica, I hope you like wearing these as much as I enjoyed knitting them!

The wedding, in 2012, was lovely.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Two from South Africa

Last September, my husband had an opportunity to visit Cape Town, South Africa. Because he is the Best Husband in the World, he went yarn shopping, as you can see here.  I have finished two projects from my gift yarns, which are from Nurturing Fibres and the dyepots of the talented Carlé.

The trick was finding the right pattern to highlight the yarn. I think I succeeded.

The pink one (color name Georgina) is Nancy Bush’s Stork’s Nest pattern. The finished size is 7 inches by 62 inches.

The green one — Dappled Forest — is the Crest of the Wave design from Barbara Walker’s first Treasury. It is 7 inches wide by 60 inches long.

Both scarves were knit on 3.25mm needles.

The yarns were a joy to knit with and I enjoyed seeing the colors emerge.