September 25, 2007

MOVING THROUGH SEPTEMBER AT WARP SPEED

When I arrived at the Nihon Vogue class that first weekend of September, there were these adorable twin angels waiting to greet me:

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Yes, both Melinda and Naomi had finished their Angel Lace shawls! I just loved seeing them wearing their finished shawls that day.

And speaking of finishing things, I managed to finish these:

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Well, finished the knitting, anyway -- still have yet to felt them. These slippers have garter stitch short-row heels, same as their garter stitch short row toes -- hence their name, Short-Row Slippers. And all four of these little moments in these slippers made for O/C knitting. I would get started and not be able to stop!

Malcolm was my knit-bud for this project, and boy, does he like to keep me in practice on my spit-splicing! Actually, I think he has a future career as a spit splicer, all on his own.

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The Feral Knitters have met every Monday this month. And one of our members has been hitting the books -- the New Pathways for Sock Knitters book, to be specific. June has been seriously studying the book, and has made two of the sample socks -- you see them at the right in this photo:

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At the bottom of the photo, you see the life-sized sock that June started, following the book. Author Cat Bordhi makes liberal use of stitch markers in her directions. You'll work between Markers A and B, for example. June very cleverly went to Michael's craft store and bought alphabet beads, put these on coilless safety pins, and made her own alphabet markers very inexpensively. I pass this tip on to you, Dear Readers.

And speaking of new books, my dear friend Anne has been too busy to blog because she's been the test knitter for many, many of the garments in Kristin Spurkland's new book, The Knitting Man(ual).

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I know that Anne test knit the vest that appears in the upper left corner of the book's cover; I hope she'll leave a mention in the comments about which of the other garments she test knit.

Yesterday, I met for the first time Jeane deCoster. Jeane owns a company called Elemental Affects that produces a fingering weight Shetland yarn right here in the United States! Jeane came over for lunch and we talked about garment design, a subject that she majored in, in college. Then Jeane showed me her garments, patterns, and irresistible yarns.

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Of course I bought the complete range of the fingering weight of yarns for Two Swans to carry, as well as the patterns. I'm in the process of photographing the colors and uploading to the website; you can sneak a peek, by clicking here. There are 14 colors and 7 natural shades in all, so you can see that the uploading is still in progress.

Jeane was our visiting dignitary at Feral Knitting last night.

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Her sample garments are laid out on the table; Jeane's at the left in the photo, and Lizabeth is at the right.

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Left to right: Evelyn, Devorah, Janine, Melinda, Jeane.

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Jeane posed a question of semantics: Do you want to call this Fair Isle knitting? It's two-color stranded knitting, but not traditional Fair Isle peeries and OXO patterns; it *is* knitted in the round, but the sleeves are sewn in as separate pieces later. Whatever you want to call it, Jeane's jacket is a gorgeous design and I cannot wait until the pattern is published so that I can knit it for myself! She's done it in two natural shades, Shetland Black and Fawn.

Jeane has plans to expand the range of her color palette from 14. She asked the Ferals what they might like to see, in terms of colors. Our answer was resounding and unequivocal: The more colors, the better! We can't get enough colors, and the value range that should go along with them. She listened to our requests for purples, blue-greens, reds, golds . . . and we're excited to see what she pulls out of the next dye bath.

While at Ferals, Ryan showed off her finished prototype hat and was working on the new-and-improved version, pattern coming soon:

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Left to right: Rebecca, Michale, Ryan, Andrea, Wendi.

My transitions today are not so very writerly, so here I go again: And speaking of golds . . . I got in the first part of my shipment of the fateful backordered Old Gold, so I can -- at long last! -- begin to fill orders for the Autumn Rose sweater. Let me explain that the mill shipped the yarn to Simply Shetland in two different shipments, and these did not arrive at the same time; consequently, Simply Shetland split my shipment, too. (Don't be rolling your eyes -- as farfetched as this might sound, it is the truth.) So yesterday I received the first part of what Two Swans had on backorder, and the rest will come later this week. If you're reading this and you're one of my customers with this yarn on backorder, please know that I'm filling orders as fast as I can -- and know that I thank you sooo much for your patience!

Posted by Karen at 02:22 PM | Comments (4)

September 04, 2007

CABIN FEVER

I kicked off the Labor Day holiday by buying myself a "Life is Good" T-shirt with this motif:

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I am woefully behind in my homework for the Nihon Vogue class, so I spent time over the weekend trying to get caught up, working specifically on Project #2, my top-down raglan sweater. Class meets again on September 8, and I have only, oh, about 27 more centimeters to knit on the body of this sweater . . . not to mention the knitting I'm supposed to be doing on Project #1 (vest) and Project #3 (round-neck sweater with set-in sleeves -- that's the one hasn't budged from the swatching stage to the actual knitting phase).

But if I am woefully behind, I have no one to blame but myself, so I am prepared to deal with it.

I also spent time this weekend working on my guilty pleasure knitting:

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Yes, I started Autumn Rose. I knitted the ribbing weekend before last, actually. You'll recall that I got gauge for the Fair Isle portion of this sweater on a size US 4 needle. Well, call me a fussy knitter, but I did not want to knit ribbing on the same size of needle as the body of the sweater (as the pattern would have you do). So, after playing around with the gauge of the ribbing and needles in sizes US 2 and US 3, I decided that going down one needle size was sufficient to give me a nice-looking ribbing. I cast on using a US 3 and the stitch count for the size sweater that's one size larger than the size I'll be knitting. After I'd finished the ribbing, I had a neurotic moment where I worred that the circumference of the ribbing might be too small. So I put the stitches on a spare piece of yarn and tried it on -- and it fit just fine.

Then, on the plain round immediately after the ribbing, I switched up to a size US 4 needle, and decreased by the number of stitches that I needed to, to knit the size that I want to make. I switched to a larger needle, but I also switched from the Spindrift (jumper) weight to the DK weight for that plain, one-color round.

A note about Old Gold: I am so dedicated to my customers that I do not have any spare Old Gold skeins in Spindrift weight set aside for myself. I have only the skein that I used for swatching. This skein is about half gone, now, and I'm hoping more Old Gold in the Spindrift weight comes in before I have used up all that I have.

But also, the Autumn Rose sweater has some plain, one-color rounds in between the motifs. (These plain, one-color rounds are sometimes in the color Old Gold, and sometimes in the color Shetland Black.) I knew from my swatch that those rounds felt kind of . . . uhm, thin . . . because they are not stranded knitting. I know that some knitters might choose to strand even the plain rows, so that their sweaters will be uniformly double-stranded throughout. I love this idea in theory, but . . . you know how the strand carried in the left hand produces a stitch that's just a fraction larger than the stitch knitted by the strand carried in the right hand? While this is used to great advantage in two-color work, I am not satisfied with how it looks in single color knitting, because it makes the tension look sooo uneven.

One thing that had come up in Janine's class on Fair Isle knitting last May, though, was using a DK weight yarn with jumper weight, when in a pinch. (And think of all those Rowan patterns, by Kaffe Fassett or Louisa Harding, where you're knitting Fair Isle motifs using Felted Tweed and Wool Cotton and Kidsilk Haze held double. In those patterns, you're using together all kinds of yarns of different thicknesses.)

I had already planned to knit Autumn Rose's plain color rounds in the DK weight, just to give those rounds a little more heft and make the overall fabric of the sweater seem more consistent.

Given the circumstances with the Spindrift being backordered, all the more reason to experiment with this. (And if I don't like it, I can always rip it out, right?)

Newly listed on the Two Swans Yarns site:

Rowan Pure Wool Aran, and Rowan Pure Wool DK yarns. These are plain-colored (that is, not heathered), smooth yarns that are machine washable. They have a nicely dense feel to them.

Sometimes I remark how crazy things are in the yarn business. The pattern book for this yarn, the Pure Wool DK Collection, came out last spring, but the yarn only just became available.

Posted by Karen at 12:55 PM | Comments (7)