By JC | April 22, 2013
The first was when a former Slick Set-in Sleeves student showed me a sweater she’d knit using that technique. It was stunning! The fit, the yarn selection, the stitch patterns – all perfect. Seeing that sweater was quite a thrill for me because it was the first time a former student had shown me what they’d been able to achieve after taking the class. I’ve been teaching that class for years, so if you ask me, I had to wait far too long for that moment.
The second took place on Saturday. Someone in Friday afternoon’s Disaster Recovery class told me how she had finished a lace piece on Friday evening, binding off but not weaving in the ends. She headed back to her room, stepped off the elevator, and discovered an end dangling down into the elevator shaft. She tugged on the end, curious as it why it was so long – sure, she hadn’t woven in her ends, but none was that long. Yard after yard came out of the elevator shaft. Finally she realized that the bind-off had unraveled, to the tune of 200+ stitches! Many stitches had unraveled back several rows. Normally, she told me, she would’ve bust out in tears. But having taken Disaster Recovery mere hours before, she had the skills and confidence she needed to get all the stitches back on needles, and to repair the damaged rows. Whoo hoo!
And that, folks, is why I teach. It’s why I put up with the travel hassles, and the loss of “normal” weekends. Knowing that students are putting new skills to good use is about the best reward there could be.
By JC | April 17, 2013
This never happens. Normally, I travel with the laptop bag, the small suitcase, and a giant, big-enough-to-hide-a-dead-body suitcase. Any more than that and I wouldn’t be able to manage airports and shuttles and hotels on my own. Any less and I wouldn’t have everything I need to teach.
What makes this trip special? (Besides being the Spring Fling, that is.) I only need to bring samples for two classes, not six or eight. And I don’t need to bring my overhead projector. So when I saw that leaving the giant bag home might be a possibility, I jettisoned everything that wasn’t absolutely essential: extra needles, extra shoes, etc.
Right now, I’m practically giddy at the thought of traveling so light. Tomorrow, though, I’ll no doubt be panic-stricken at the thought that I’ve forgotten something. Wish me luck!
By JC | April 3, 2013
Remember the center-out square of Fountain Lace that I knit a couple weeks back? I decided to turn it into a stole, extending two sides of the square to create “wings.”
But how to make the most of a limited amount of yarn? My knee-jerk reaction was to weigh the yarn remaining after the square was complete, then knit one wing until it was “long enough” (whatever that might mean), or until I’d used up half the remaining yarn. After that, I’d knit the other wing to the same length. If that didn’t leave me with enough yarn for the edging, no problem, I’d buy some more Vice Yarns Carnal in a coordinating colorway… say, a slightly darker shade of blue.
And so I weighed the yarn and starting knitting, but here’s the rub: I didn’t like having to re-weigh the yarn repeatedly to see if I was getting close to having used up half of it. Didn’t like dragging out the scale, didn’t like not being able to weigh the yarn while knitting out of the house.
So I’ve started a little experiment. I’m still knitting the first wing with one end of the yarn, but with the other end I’ve started the second wing.
Once the second wing has the same number of pattern repeats as the first, then I’ll alternate between the two: one more repeat on the first wing, one more repeat on the second. I figure that counting repeats ought to be a quick, easy, and reliable way of getting the two wings to the same length… with no scale required.
We’ll see how it goes. Let’s hope that keeping the two ends untangled doesn’t drive me batty and make me wish I’d stuck with the scale.
By JC | March 25, 2013
I’m still making progress on the Fountain Lace piece, but yesterday I took some time out to repair my tattered gloves:
The process was the same for each of the damaged fingers. Begin with a small needle, catching each stitch of a round below the damaged area and below any thin spots:
Rip back to those caught stitches. The first couple rounds always disintegrated into short little segments, held together mostly by the felting qualities of Mountain Colors River Twist. The last few rounds unraveled to clean, sturdy stitches:
Re-knit using fresh yarn, and needles of a size appropriate for the yarn:
Repeat for each damaged finger.
In the end, the gloves were much improved. They had already survived three winters; now I figure they’re good for at least a couple more:
And I only needed to reknit eight of the fingers – the pinkies weren’t all that damaged. Good thing, too: I’m not sure I would’ve had enough yarn to reknit them as well. Here’s all the fresh yarn I have left:
And that’s after unraveling my original gauge swatch.
By JC | March 19, 2013
When I finished Daphne, what did I do next?
- Repair the tattered fingers on my gloves?
- Re-sole DH’s house slippers?
- Fix the hole in my toe socks?
Nope, nope, and nope. Despite the need for the gloves/slippers/socks (it’s still damp and drizzle season, after all), and despite the satisfaction of well-performed repairs saving handknits from the trash, I succumbed to the irresistible urge to start something new:
It’s Vice Yarns Carnal in Waterlily, a 70/20/10 blend of merino, cashmere, and silk yumminess. Over the weekend I just had to use it to try out a new design idea: Fountain Lace (from Barbara Walker’s A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns) knit into a square from the center out, with narrow strips of faggoting between the sections.
I like the effect of the combined stitch patterns, but I’m not sure where I want to go from here. Options include:
- One large square, finished off with a sideways knit-on edging. Eh. I’m not too keen on square shawls: you usually see them worn folded in half to create a triangle, and I think that’d obscure the patterning here.
- Three or five squares of moderate size, joined with the same bit of faggoting to create a stole, again finished with a sideways knit-on edging. Mm. Could be okay.
- Three or five squares joined to create an “L.” Hmm. Interesting. Might be more wearable than a stole. Might not.
- One square of moderate size, with two of its sides extended to create a stole or an “L.” Hmm. I kind of like this idea, if only because it would leave more room to show off the Fountain Lace.
What do you think?
By JC | March 15, 2013
Goodness, it’s been a long time since I’ve blogged. And today would most likely be another no-blogging day, except I have a tiny case of finishitis. (You know, the complement to startitis. It happens, sometimes.) So let’s play catch-up.
February was a big month for traveling. It started with the Visionary Authors retreat – always a productive week, even if it’s exhausting. Here’s tangible proof of productivity:
It’s the felted laptop cover that I started aeons ago. I felted and trimmed it to size just before the trip, and sewed it up on the first morning of the retreat. I’m quite pleased with the results. It does a nice job of protecting my beloved MacBook Air as it travels with me to teaching gigs. And the cable turned out okay too.
I started a project at the retreat too. More on that later.
From the Visionary Authors retreat, it was straight to Madrona. Oh, how I goofed there. Yes, I had the good fortune to take a photography class from Franklin Habit. Yes, I enjoyed teaching several classes of my own, including mini versions of Cast-on Cornucopia and Disaster Recovery. Yes, I took part in the Teacher Talent Show. But I didn’t have the good sense to build any down-time into my schedule. No time to hang out in the Rotunda, minimal time to scope out the Marketplace. sigh. Next time, I promise I’ll do better.
Speaking of Stitches South… April is going to be much like February, with three trips in a row, boom boom boom! Stitches South in Atlanta, the Loopy Ewe Spring Fling in Loveland, CO, and Yarnover in Minneapolis. Whew! I better get my travel knitting in order.
And then? Ditto October: I’m teaching for the Rochester Knitting Guild and the Knitting Guild of Greater Buffalo before heading to Rhinebeck. I’m not sure why the majority of my travel this year is getting bunched up into just three months. At least that last trip will only involve flying out and back just once.
And now for the project that got today’s case of finishitis rolling, the project I started at the Visionary Authors retreat and for which I finished writing the pattern this morning: the Daphne shawl.
The photo really does not do the shawl justice. Knit in Blue Moon Fiber Arts® Luscious Silk in the Cozy Fierce and Dirty Orange colorway, the shawl practically glows. The yarn was an absolute delight to work with.
And I had fun with the pattern too. As is my preference, I knit it from the top down in three wedges.
Why three wedges and not the usual two, you may ask? Because three wedges let the shawl drape more easily over your shoulders. And the bottom of the shawl is a horizontal line, not a tip that points directly at your butt and that you often end up sitting on.
I love love love how the stitch patterns worked out:
Twig – a traditional Estonian pattern, and a close relative of Vine Stripe from Barbara Walker’s A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns – flows directly into Leaf Lace, which blends beautifully with a simple scalloped Edging. Leaf Lace, as it turns out, is another traditional Estonian pattern, but I pulled it and the Edging from Evelyn Clark’s wonderful Knitting Lace Triangles.
Here’s one last shot of Daphne:
Daphne is slated for publication in Dreaming of Shetland, an ebook due out in May. Proceeds will fund Deb Robson’s explorations of Shetland sheep and wool. Wanna know more? Sign up to receive email updates.
And that brings this blog mostly up to date, I think. More news flashes as events warrant… say, when I figure out what next month’s travel knitting is going to be.
By JC | January 23, 2013
Yet another pair of toe socks, finished:
They’re much the same as my green pair, except I made yet another departure from Cat Bordhi’s original Sweet Tomato Heel: the first short-row wedge is composed of increasingly shorter rows, while the second is composed of increasingly longer rows. I like the results:
- Cast-on Trickery, a version of Cast-on Cornucopia that focuses on provisional and tubular cast-ons, with Judy’s Magic Cast-on thrown in for good measure
- Recover with Drop, Tink, Frog, a version of Disaster Recovery that focuses on three basic recovery techniques that every knitter ought to know, with some “how to prevent mistakes” tips sprinkled on top
I’m looking forward to them!
By JC | January 16, 2013
Having grafted together the toes of the second sock, I’m all set with lots of plain knitting on the foot, a simple heel, and more mindless knitting on the leg. It’s perfect travel knitting for my trip to Tucson, where I’m giving a talk for the Old Pueblo Knitters Guild tomorrow, and teaching for Kiwi Knitting on Friday and Saturday. Should be fun!
And now, to finish packing. Mustn’t forget my sunglasses! They’ve been of no use to me here in Oregon lately, but I suspect I may need them in Arizona…
By JC | January 13, 2013
Once again, DH has worn holes through his handknits – this time, through the soles of a pair of socks.
Side note: He didn’t detect the holes; I did. I’m always amazed that he manages to create holes without ever noticing them.
Fortunately, the holes and the neighboring thin spots were all in the same area, under the ball of the foot; the rest of the socks were in good shape. Re-knitting from the mid-foot down would result in a decent pair of socks, ready to withstand more abuse… and would be a whole lot faster than knitting a whole new pair of socks.
I started by cutting off the toe of the first sock…
…and unraveling down.
The first few rows were a little fussy, but eventually the yarn started to unravel easily enough. Once I got past the end of the thin spots, I started unknitting stitch by stitch, placing stitches back on needles as I went.
Soon enough, I had all the stitches back on needles.
After just a few rows, it was clear the repair was going well. You can see a slight change in the color and texture of the yarn – Blue Moon Fiber Arts® Twisted – but I imagine the difference will disappear after a little wear and a wash or two.
And then… the finished sock!
Now for sock #2… and then the glove fingers that need repair, and the felted slippers that need new bottoms… ah, it doesn’t end, does it?
PS. Anybody have any ideas for the cut-off toes? I figure they could be filled with lavender and turned into sachets, or filled with catnip and turned into cat toys. Or I could just toss them and not have yet another project hanging over my head. Your thoughts?