Sunday, March 8, 2009

So What Happened to February? Part 2

Because I didn’t know what I was doing I haven’t progressed very far on the sewing projects for my granddaughters. I’ve finally gotten the initials done on the corduroy bodices, now I have to change the thread on the serger to sew up the outfits. But of course, I’ve put that off to make an apron for my neighbor…

My neighbor, Lynn, is a great cook and baker besides being generous. When Carlee and family from SLC were here for Paige’s first birth celebration, Lynn sent over some baked dishes and cookies. What a sweetheart! So instead of sending some food back to her, I thought that I would embroider an apron for her and send that back with the empty dishes. HA! Well the empty dishes went back 2 weeks ago and I’m still working on the apron! But at least it looks decent. I added some embroidery “Lynn Super Mom” to the apron bib in pink on a turquoise background with an Amy Butler print used for the ruffle, pocket, trim and ties. Another week or so should finish off the apron. I keep forgetting that sewing, and doing a good job of it takes more time than I originally think it should. Once the apron is finished I can get back to the granddaughter’s outfits--which they will have probably grown out of by then or the weather will be too warm to wear. True Murphy’s Law or in my case, Ackerman’s Procrastination.

This past Monday morning I started teaching a beginning tapestry class at Wooly Wonders to a very interested student. Interested enough to get me back to teaching as I had taken the fall semester off from teaching weaving classes. It looks like I may have a beginning rigid heddle class following the end of the tapestry class. I’m going to try some new resolutions to prevent burn out. Teach only one class - one section at a time with a break of a week between a series of classes. And I raised my prices to approximately $10. an hour plus materials if any. We’ll see how well the new resolutions work out.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

So, What Happened to February? Part 1

Talk about a month slipping by without noticing it! I can’t believe I haven’t posted anything in my blog in over a month! Is that being too complacent, too busy or does that fit under my title of Procrastinator Magnificent?

My granddaughter Paige has turned one and has 8 teeth. She isn’t walking yet but may surprise us one of these days as she is standing unassisted occasionally when she doesn’t think about it.

Carlee, Tom, Jack, Katie Jane and Buddy drove down from Salt Lake City over Presidents’ Holiday to celebrate Paige’s birthday. We had Erin’s two Schnauzers as they were on a cruise and would have the party the day after they got back from the cruise. It was a bit of a zoo with four dog when anyone came to the door.

I bought a Schacht Cricket loom to work on with Jack while he was here and he did quite well with weaving on it. Katie had to have a go at it and didn’t do too badly either. She just doesn’t have the attention spand for it. Everything big brother tries she has to try. Grandma is going to keep the loom so that they have something to weave on when they visit, and I’ll bring it along when I visit SLC. The loom will last longer that way.

I’m still knitting on the horizontal herringbone scarves, all 4 of them, mostly as experiments to see how the gauge and yarns work out. But they are being replaced as the knitting project of the moment. I’ve moved on to “Durango Blue”.

“Durango Blue” is a sort of freeform knitting project that I want to finish before July, hopefully so that I can put it in the unjuried IWC (Intermountain Weavers Conference) show. It’s knit using #13 needles in a garter stitch, following a sketch that I’ve enlarged with a software program called Rapid Resizer. The enlargement is used as my cartoon or pattern. It’s a “shawl” that is really a wall hanging. More a figment of my imagination. I’ve started a group at Wooly Wonders on Tuesday mornings working on knitting and crochet freeform so that I will start working on my freeform project. And it worked! I’ve started working on my project again and a couple of people showed up for the group. So we may get something going.

I’ve been taking the mastery embroidery lessons for both the machine and the software for the Bernina which overlapped. I would like to retake the lessons in a month or so. Hopefully then more of the information will make more sense and become more second nature. Now I have to look everything up before I do it, as I am so unsure of what I am doing. But it is fascinating.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

How the Stitches Work

While the individual stitches for My So Called Scarf (horizontal herringbone stitch) are not difficult, their sequence might be confusing, at least they were for me. So I’ve tried to break the sequence down into mini steps with the help of Hermi taking the pictures as I knit and purled the two rows of the pattern.

To repeat the pattern again in a longer form:
*Cast on an even number of stitches.
* Row 1(Right Side) Knit the first stitch, *(Start the pattern sequence)
Sl 1 (slip the next stitch as if to purl it),
K1 (Knit the next stitch),
psso (pass the slipped stitch back over the knitted stitch),
But before dropping the slipped stitch off of the left needle Knit into the
back of the slipped stitch.* (End of pattern sequence)
Continue this sequence until there is only one stitch left. End the row with
Knit 1.

[You have decreased a stitch by the psso, but then you have increased a stitch by knitting into the back of the slipped stitch before transferring it to the right knitting needle. Therefore the number of total stitches remains the same at the end of the row as when you cast on!]

*Row 2 (Wrong Side) *(Start the pattern sequence) P2tog (Purl 2 stitches
Do not slip the combined stitches off the left needle, Purl the first stitch
again, then slip both stitches off the needle.* (End of the pattern
Continue this pattern to the end of the row.

[Again you’re decreasing a stitch by purling 2 stitches together, then you’re increasing a stitch by purling into the first purl stitch for a second time. So the stitch count for the row remains the same.]

*Repeat these 2 rows until you run out of yarn, or you obtain the desired length.
Starting the directions again with the photos, not every concept will have a photo.
*Cast on an even number of stitches.
*Row 1. K 1, *[Fig. 1 Slip first stitch as if to purl]

[Fig. 2 Knit second stitch]

[Fig. 3 psso=pass slipped stitch over knitted stitch],

But before slipping stitch off the left needle...
[Fig. 4 Knitting into back of slipped stitch]

[Fig. 5 Completing stitch in back of Knit stitch]

[Fig. 6 Slipping 2 stitches off the left needle]*
continue pattern until there is only one stitch left in the row. K1. Turn.

*Row 2 *P2tog=Purl 2 stitches together [Fig. 7 Inserting needle into 2 purl stitches]

[Fig. 8 Throwing yarn for purling 2 stitches together]

[Fig. 9 Completing purling 2 stitches together]

Do not slip the stitches off the needle, Purl the first stitch again
[Fig. 10 Going back into the loop of the first purl stitch on the left needle again]

[Fig. 11 Throwing the yarn for purling the first stitch again]

[Fig. 12 Completed stitch, taking 2 stitches off the needle]

[Fig. 13 Stitches are off the needle]* Complete the row with this pattern.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

This Is For Candy...

I will do just about anything for dark chocolate, no not really, but I do have a real weakness for it. Some kind, diabolical person filled a gift box with Hershey miniature candy bars and left it on the group table at Wooly Wonders yarn shop, where I work, over the holidays. I did my part in trying to find all the dark chocolate minis. I have enough guilt that I probably should replenish the stash, of course that means there will be more chocolates to snack on during WOW (weaving on Wednesdays) and when I work. But I digress.

Candy was actually my art supervisor in my former life as a Clark Co. Middle School art teacher. We’ve since both moved on to other things but run into each other occasionally. We have found in each other a kindred spirit--someone who like to knit during football games. So for the past few years we have both brought our knitting to the same Super Bowl party.

This year I ran across Candy at a holiday party just before semester break. Sorry to say, I talked her ear off. I told her about some of the websites that I found in the holiday issue of Vogue Knitting that I mentioned in my last blog entry. I also mentioned a knitted scarf pattern that my son had found for me on a craft magazine website, I promised to pass the pattern and the websites to Candy as she handed me her business card with her email address.

Don’t they say that “the way to Hell is paved with good intentions”? When we got back from Salt Lake City Dec. 31, after helping Carlee and Tom get settled, I noticed Candy’s business card laying on my computer desk! The great procrastinator had forgotten to send the promised items to Candy before we left for SLC. Yuck.

So to make amends I’m going to try describe the scarf and illustrate the stitches used in the scarf pattern I promised to send Candy. I found I didn’t know how to do the stitches and had to ask Joyce the owner of Wooly Wonders to show me how to do them.

So for the rest of the blog I’ll concentrate on the directions of the herringbone scarf, which is not difficult once you know the two basic stitches (where have you heard that before--but it’s really true.)

This is the blog entry that my son passed onto me via
My So Called Scarf - October 26, 2004
I was wearing this scarf over the weekend while I was at the Knit Out in Boulder, and I got a number of comments and requests for the pattern. Here’s the story behind the scarf. A couple of years ago I was in San Francisco and happened on the yarn shop, Imagiknit. What a fun shop! The owners, Allison and Sara, are so personable and helpful. I would recommend stopping in if you are in the Bay area anytime soon! There were a ton of scarves knit up on a rack as samples, and that’s where I spied this lovely one. I had never seen Manos Del Uruguay before and fell in love with this colorway, it’s color 113 (they are calling it wildflowers). The scarf pattern came with the yarn, one of the shop girls had typed it up. Now, every time I wear it, someone comments on it and I’ve been asked so many times for the pattern that I finally called the store and asked if I could give it out. They just laughed and told me that they appreciated the call, but that it was just a stitch pattern out of a pattern book and that I could distribute it at will. Thanks Imagiknit ladies! So here it is:
Materials: 2 Skeins of Manos del Uruguay; US #11 Needles; Darning Needle
Glossary: psso=pass slipped stitch over; P2tog=purl 2 together
[CO=cast on; BO=bind off (I added these items]
-CO 30 Stitches.
-Row 1: K1, *sl 1, K1, psso but before dropping the slipped stitch from the left needle, knit into the back of it* repeat until there is one stitch left, K1.
-Row 2: *P2tog, do not slip stitches off the needle, purl the first stitch again, slip both stitches off needle*
-Repeat rows 1 and 2 until you run out of yarn.
-BO. *Weave in all ends. Wear proudly! Posted by Stacey at October 26, 2004

I looked through a bunch of my knitting pattern books and the only one with this pattern was “365 Knitting Stitches a Year - Perpetual Calendar” (2002) by Martingale and Company on the October 30 page. The wording was slightly different, I’m sure to avoid copyright infringement, but the technique was the same. It’s called a horizontal herringbone stitch in this calendar.

I tried knitting the pattern with some Manos del Uruguay I had in my stash, but the colors were very dark and the variations in the thickness of the yarn were too much. Sometimes the strand was as thin as thread, and it was hard to keep track of the stitches, so I switched yarns. I’m now using Kaya by Crystal Palace Yarns 100% wool, color 0108. It’s a two ply, variegated yarn in a ball of 65 yards recommended for a 10.5 - 11 US needle. Since it’s not a thick ’n thin yarn I’ve been much happier knitting with it. My scarf measures on the needles between 6.5 and 7”, and I’m kind of a tight knitter especially with this pattern. A skein of Manos del Uruguay is about 138 yards, so “My So Called Scarf” takes about 276 yards, which is a generous amount for a scarf, partly because of the stitch which almost creates a double thickness with the crossover stitches.

Other chunky yarns which could be used with this pattern perhaps using a size #13 needle would be Berroco’s Hip Hop, 100% wool skein of 76 yards, and cast on 2-4 less stitches. Another yarn might be Nashua’s Painted Forest, 100% wool with 55 yards a ball. A third yarn you might use is Cascade Yarns’ Nikki which comes in some beautiful colorways. Like Manos del Uruguay and Hip Hop, it’s a thick ‘n thin yarn of 100% wool but the skeins are larger at 110 yards. I’d probably figure 250-275 yards at a #13 needle, so 4 skeins of Hip Hop and 5 balls of Nashua would probably work. Depending on how wide and how long you want your scarf you could get by with 2 or 3 skeins of Nikki.

Because the technique produces a tighter fabric, whichever yarn you decide to use I recommend going up two needle sizes to get a scarf fabric that isn’t stiff and too tight. The label on the Manos del Uruguay recommends needles US 8-10 and the yarn does look thinner than Hip Hop and Nashua.

Other Needle Sizes and Yarns
I’m also trying the pattern out with smaller needle sizes. Generally, to make changes to the scarf directions keep in mind the total stitches cast on must be an even number. For my own sanity I like to make the number of cast on stitches a round number as it’s easier to remember. A person could hand a tag on the cast on yarn tail with the number of cast on stitches on it. If you’re working on more than one project at a time a reminder helps. Or put two knots in the yarn tail to stand for twenty stitches, or three knots to stand for thirty stitches, etc. As a senior my “hard drive” sometimes reaches overload, so I try these tricks to cut down on my frustrations.

As I mentioned before when you pick a yarn, use knitting needles two sizes up from the size usually used with that yarn. The rest of your decisions are figuring how many stitches to cast on for the desired width, and how long to make the scarf.

Right now I’m using size #10 needles with Noro’s Silk Garden with 38 stitches which produced approximately a 7 ¼” wide scarf. I’m also working on #8 needles with Noro’s Silk Garden Sock Yarn with 40 stitches on a scarf that is about 6 ¼” wide. This one is only about an inch long as I tore it out to move up a needle size, so the width might not be too accurate.

The knitting needles I’ve been using are Serendipity Needles birch needles with polymer clay finials (ends). They’re a specialty item that we sell at Wooly Wonders that are great for gifts. I bought a pair to take on a cruise because they were so cute, but I really liked knitting with their sharp points. So I’ve gotten some more needles in other sizes.

It’s been kind of fun trying different yarns with different needle sizes to see what the pattern will look like after a couple of inches. Of course the larger the needles the faster the scarf develops and the lesser the amount of yarn used.
Next Post: How the stitches are worked.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Vogue Knitting - From My Viewpoint

I finally broke down and bought the Holiday 2008 issue of Vogue Knitting magazine last week. Over the years I’ve subscribed to the magazine a couple of times and always decided the patterns were too far out for me, and canceled my subscription. Lately I’ve come to the realization that I like parts of the magazine a lot and other parts, not so much. So again I’m toying with the idea of subscribing to the magazine, nothing wishy-washy about me.

I love the ads - why do they seem to look so much better in Vogue Knitting? And I love the features, the articles by Meg Swansen, and the teaching of new techniques. But trying to visualize myself in some of the fashions is more than even my imagination can handle. So the pattern generally get passed over.

Under What’s New on pages 8-10, I bought a knitting gauge similar to item #5, from a different source than the one listed in Vogue. There was a choice of 9 colors and the price was about $16. from Scout’s Swag.

Several of the other “metallic touches” appealed to me, stitch marker #1 that resembled medallions, and buttons #3, #7, and #12.

I haven’t checked it out yet, but the concept sounds very interesting. KnitBook is a book of patterns that you pick out from their selection, formatted from a choice of three bindings, one of which is a spiral binding. Then it is printed and mailed to you. I wonder how pricey it is. It’s from the website But as the ad says, coming soon. I just checked it out and it’s still coming soon. So is Christmas!

The one item I did check out and sign up for is discussed under VK World on page 20, Patternfish. It’s found at It’s an on line store for buying and selling knitting patterns. What’s nice about the site is that the patterns are indexed by designer and yarns besides the normal pattern categories. The patterns are reasonably priced, and the site keeps a file of the patterns you’ve purchased, a great backup for the big black hole that lurks in my workroom.

The advertisement on page 49 of Vogue Knitting, “Top 10 Picks for the Holidays” by mentions Planet which I’d like to check out too. It mentions free patterns and an international yarn shop directory. ‘Free patterns’ always grabs my attention. Fiber buzz is a collection of artisans packaged for marketing. Their products are highlighted in ads in several fiber magazines under the title of “Top 10 Picks”. The list of artisans is quite large so the products in the ads vary continually.

Tags for your handmade gifts can be ordered from The tags are colorful, clean looking and would add a nice touch to a gift. Twelve Handmade tags for $5.95. The artist also has other items for sale like note cards. “She is a graphic artist who loves to knit”.

So now that I’ve paged through this issue of Vogue Knitting pretty thoroughly I’m waiting for the Winter issue to show up on January 27.