Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Knitting and Crochet’

I was sorting my Ravelry projects page the other night and came to a startling realization: in the last few years I’ve knitted myself a LOT of sweaters. The hand-knit side of my winter wardrobe is getting pretty respectable. Without trying too hard, I could probably wear hand-knits every single day. This brings me to an important question: what should I do with my commercial sweaters?

I’m wearing my commercial woolens less and less often. I have a few favorites, and a few special-purpose items (like my Icebreaker winter running gear). But most of my mountain of winter woolens don’t get much wear anymore. Why wear the turtleneck you bought on sale at TJ Maxx when you can wear the similar, but much more special sweater you knitted while watching reruns of The Big Bang Theory.

Here’s the thing though: there’s a certain security in owning a set of sweaters I don’t care that much about. My hand knits are specialspecialspecial.  I wear them gently and wash them with care. My commercial sweaters…I don’t actively try to be destructive toward them…but if a cat snags a claw in them and make a hole, or if I get a molasses stain on the sleeve, it doesn’t matter so much. The only thing I have invested is money .

I’ve come to a critical, woolen juncture, just as many knitters have before me. There’s only so much storage space in my home for sweaters. If I want to go on knitting sweaters, I need to start getting rid of some. Stuff comes in, stuff goes out. Donate them, unravel them, whatever. They need to move along.

Am I ready to start jettisoning some of these commercial sweaters? Am I ready to depend on my knitting skills to outfit me for my real life?

Read Full Post »

It’s going to be 80 in southern Minnesota today. The leaves are still firmly attached to the trees and stubbornly green. But in a few weeks all of that is going to change and I’m going to be ready.

Over Labor Day weekend, I finally finished weaving in the ends on my Plum Island Pullover.  It’s a simple, gansey style sweater, with a slouchy, comfortable shape. The pattern is by Alison Green.

The decided to knit this sweater during one of those rare moments of yarn-related serendipity. I had a pattern I wanted to knit and exactly the right yarn in my stash, the right yardage and everything.  How often does that happen?

I used Imperial Yarns Columbia in the Indigo Heather colorway.

 

 

Read Full Post »

Dear blog followers,

I love having you around. You make me feel listened-to.  I hope you stick around and that I can continue to entertain you.  * Warning: I talk about knitting a lot. I hope that’s what you signed up for.*

I’d like to pay tribute to a random sampling of my most recent followers. Check out their blogs. You might find a new favorite.

Bridgewater Crafts: This designer recently released a very beginner-friendly dishcloth pattern. I haven’t looked at the pattern (it’s paid) but it’s nice to see a designer taking something as simple as a dishcloth seriously enough to have the pattern tech-edited.

A Nerdy Crocheter: If I knew how to crochet, I would totally make this Sunburst Baby Blanket.  She’s selling it on Etsy for $19.99, which seems like far too little money for something so pretty, in my opinion.

Missy’s Crafty Mess: It’s the end of August and, I don’t know about you, but I’m in firm denial that there is any such thing as winter. Psychologically, I can work around this denial by telling myself that the sweaters, shawls and mitts on my needles are meant for crisp autumn mornings or for camping in the mountains. Missy doesn’t seem to have this problem. In the middle of summer she’s posting pictures of balaclavas and referring to winter as an impending event. I don’t know if that’s practical or depressing. None the less, she seems to be a balaclava knitting machine.

Flip Coast Creations: This crafter finds excuses to craft things out of any material to-hand. On a recent glamping trip (glam camping),  they made their own wooden spatula and a truly cunning whittled Gandalf-stick. That’s talent!

Read Full Post »

During a recent visit home, Mom and I took some time to play with her new Pat Green Duncan drum carder. For those fellow fiber geeks who want to know, Mom has the hand-cranked Blender/Carder 8 Inch Hand Crank model. I don’t have anything to compare it to as it’s the only carder I’ve ever used; however, I can report that it was easy for a beginner (me) to use. The only hard part was attaching the drive band.

I brought most of a scoured Jacob fleece with me to share with Mom. We spent a couple of happy evenings sorting through the fleece, picking out some to comb, some to tease and card, and some to flick and spin from the lock. We were a bit overly ambitious  and, in the end, spent most of our time on the fleece chosen for carding.

Teased locks loaded into the tray and ready to be carded.

Teased locks loaded into the tray and ready to be carded.

Separating the fiber from the carder.

Separating the fiber from the carder.

Rolling fiber off the carder using a handy-dandy paper towel tube.

Rolling fiber off the carder using a handy-dandy paper towel tube.

After the carder was loaded up and couldn’t take on any more fiber, we used a little metal tool to make a break in the tube of fiber. Then we rolled the fiber off the teeth carefully using a cardboard paper towel roll. After that, the batt of fiber was divided into two or three strips, and the carding process began again. Each batt made three passes through the drum carder before it was (finally) rolled off for the last time.

A small but growing mountain of batts.

A small but growing mountain of batts.

One thing I didn’t realize before diving into this process was how slow it would be. I’m used to using hand carders and I know how slow those are. I just assumed that carding on a drum carder would be faster. It probably is. But it sure doesn’t seem like it. You have to crank slowly and evenly so the fiber will take up properly, standing there all the while, shifting from foot to foot, trying not to daydream. It helps to have someone to talk to, or a podcast to listen to. I understand why people who sell fiber for a living spring for the motorized carders.

One thing I was very pleased with was the amount of junk the carder removed from the fleece. It was already exceptionally clean, but had a bit of  stubborn vegetable matter and dirt caught here and there. The carder took care of it.

A slowly growing pile of junk on the table underneath the drum carder.

A slowly growing pile of junk on the table underneath the drum carder.

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Peter Pan busting out a joyous crow. He must have just finished knitting that tunic.

It’s time to crow.

I’ve made astounding progress this summer on my self-assigned warm weather tops knitting project . At the beginning of June, I posted about the first two completed tops:

#1 Austin Tee by Jean Chung

#2 Bonny by tincanknits

Since then I’ve powered my way through two more:

#3 Still Waters by Julie Tujorman

Knitted in Louet Euroflax sport. This tunic is light to wear and the lace panels on the sides and sleeves provide lots of, um, airflow. I usually pair this top with a cotton tank underneath. My husband likes it paired with a sports bra. That last has only happened once, on a very warm and rainy day. I’m pleased to report that this linen dried out very quickly after getting soaked in a mad dash across the Sherwin Williams parking lot.

#4 Sterling Peplum by Klever Knits 

Knitted using Hempathy, a yarn I’ve heard nothing but good things about. The day I finished this tank I put it on and wore it out to dinner with my husband. It’s a bit prickly next to skin right now, but will probably soften up a lot with repeated washing.

 

Fun to wear but sooo much stockinette

After all that stockinette I needed to take a break and knit some lace. So I threw myself upon Red Rock Canyon by Romi Hill with slavering glee.  I inhaled that lace.

Knitted using two hanks of Fish Belly Fiber Works yarn I won at Zombie Knitpocalypse

It wasn’t enough lace. I needed more lace. So much more lace.

So I cast on Evenstar Shawl by Susan Pandorf.

10% down. Lots and lots of fine lace to go.

This one should last me for a while.

Read Full Post »

My Saturday at the Shepherd’s Harvest Wool Festival in Lake Elmo, MN.

Rabbit Agility, it’s a thing.  4-H shows off the skills of their highly-trained rabbit athletes. They all seem to like to hide in the tunnel at the end of the course. 20140522-092403-33843080.jpg

Spinning wheels galore.  I had plans to try out that great wheel, but never got around to it. Next time… 20140522-092431-33871222.jpg

Luscious yarns and kits. I managed to be really good this time and didn’t buy much yarn. Just a couple of hanks from a favorite vendor, Winterwind Farm, who sells CVM blends. 20140522-092500-33900394.jpg   20140522-092457-33897497.jpg   20140522-092502-33902176.jpg

The grand prize for rebranding . Because anything that says “Cashmere” has to be a luxury good. 20140522-092503-33903042.jpg

Where I went a little crazy, was in buying fleeces. Pretty, pretty fleeces. Nice presentation too. It looks like they climbed a tall ladder and snipped a bit of cloud out of the sky, then wound it up and plopped it into a basket. I started with just one, but then ended up winning a couple more in the silent auction. I honestly didn’t expect to win either of them.

20140522-092501-33901346.jpg

 

Animals 

I wonder what breed of sheep this is?

20140522-095307-35587102.jpg

 

This male llama had to be kept penned separately from the herd. He was also the only one who hadn’t been sheared. A bit aggressive perhaps?

20140522-095308-35588724.jpg

 

Mama goat and her two kids, I assume?

20140522-095307-35587912.jpg

 

Read Full Post »

Welcome to day six of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week.

For today’s topic, I am writing about a knitter I admire: Alice Starmore.

Alice Starmore’s work is true art. Her patterns are not only lovely, they also seem to express ideas. They have a voice and story inside them.

*     *     *     *     *

A Brief History of Alice

Alice Starmore was born in Scotland on the Hebridean island of Lewis. Her family worked as fishermen and spoke Gaelic at home.

Garenin Black House Village, Isle Of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Scotland Image from http://wallpaperweb.org

In 1975, she became a professional textile designer, her work heavily influenced by the fiber crafting traditions of her home. She immersed herself in the textile traditions of Scandinavia and began to write books of knitwear patterns. Her first book, Scandinavian Knitwear, was published in 1981. This book was followed by 17 others, as well as variety of other publications.

Today, Alice Starmore is world-renown as a knitting expert. Her books on Fair Isle and Aran knitting are regarded as standards in the literature.

In particular, this book.

*    *     *     *     *

How I Came to Love Alice’s Work e subjects, and she has taught and lectured extensively throughout Britain, Europe and the USA.

I was first introduced to Alice Starmore’s work while searching for boyfriend sweater patterns. I drooled over several gorgeous cabled sweaters, but wisely decided to tackle a simpler project. I was ambitious as heck, when it came to my knitting, but not deluded. I still have a few of those patterns in my “some day” pile.  I’ll know when I’m ready.

The patterns I’m really enchanted by, though, even more than the cables, are the colorwork. I’m just blown away.

Lindisfarne Sweater by Alice Starmore, as seen on Ravelry and in The Celtic Collection.

Oregon Vest by Alice Starmore as seen on https://www.virtualyarns.com

 

This last December I happened up on a copy of The Celtic Collection in a Friends of the Library shop. I snapped it up. I had no immediate intention to knit anything from it, it was just something I had to have. A piece of raw inspiration to feed my creativity. Like a book of Da Vinci sketches or a print of Monet’s water lilies. I read the book in bed, some nights, lost in the world trapped between the pages.

A Tribute to Alice Starmore’s Work…in Lego

It may seem a bit odd to pay tribute to this artist’s work in a non-fiber medium. But I was fascinated to see how well the intricate Fair Isle patterns could be translated into rows of colored PVC bricks.

I started with one of the simplest patterns in The Celtic Collection, a child’s sweater called Ardagh. 

Ardagh Child's Sweater in Celtic Fretwork. Photo of page 47 of The Celtic Colelction.

Ardagh Child’s Sweater in Celtic Fretwork. Photo of page 47 of The Celtic Colelction.

I chose a small section of Chart A for my experiment.

Child's sweater

I used a combination of different types of tiles and plates. I tried to choose colors close to the yarn colors used in the sweater. Some color matches were better than others due to the colors available in our home Lego supply.

Next, I tackled a slightly more complex pattern, the Kells sweater.

Kells sweater by Alice Starmore, as seen on page 50 of The Celtic Collection.

Kells sweater by Alice Starmore, as seen on page 50 of The Celtic Collection.

I chose a small section of the Chart that showed the intersection of four multicolored diamonds. I ran into difficulties with my color selection, but eventually produced this:

Adult sweater

Early on, I attempted to render one of the more complex Fair Isle sweaters in Lego, but had to quit due to a shortage of pink and purple plates.

So What Was the Point of This?

I won’t deny it, I spent an entire Saturday afternoon playing with Legos. Playing with legos and not knitting.

What I learned is that Legos can provide a very useful medium for trying out new patterns and color combinations. It doesn’t necessarily take less time than swatching. In fact, it probably takes a lot more time. But the advantage is that you can reuse Legos over and over in infinite combinations. And you’re not limited by the colors of yarn you happen to have on hand, only the colors of your Legos.

It’s true that, in this experiment, I ran into some issues with the colors in my Lego supply. But that was because I had not planned to use Legos in this way. The Lego collection belongs to my husband. He buys his bricks with shape in mind more than color. Were I to invest a little money, I could amass a collection of colored plates and bricks exclusively for color work experimentation. And baby, you’d better believe me when I say, there are lots of options out there. Take a web-walk over to Bricklink sometime.

Not Done Playing Yet

I recently took a class in Norwegian stranded color work and am absolutely obsessed with Selbuvotter mittens. This is, perhaps, a better application of Lego experimentation than the Alice Starmore sweaters. One could actually construct a complete mock-up of a mitten (minus thumb) in Lego before knitting it.

Also, perhaps more helpfully, one can play around with various different motifs in a very modular way, swapping things around until you get a sequence that pleases you.

Here's a current experiment in progress.

Here’s a current experiment in progress.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,475 other followers