Category Archives: Knit Technique

The Things We Swatch For Love

My favorite swatch this time around.

A Weeks Work

A Weeks Work

The last few times I’ve come up against a submission deadline* I have told myself, “NEXT time, you’re going to take time to do it right – you’re going to do what you used to do, swatch and sketch and love what you’re doing!”

I’d fallen into a bad habit of only submitting one or two things (when I submitted at all) because I’ve been so overwhelmed with work at  ModeKnit Yarn, and the teaching I’ve ramped up this year.

But there’s a deadline looming for submissions on Monday, and this time I’ve taken the better part of a week to try to get it right!

Unblocked HorrorNot that I didn’t do anything else this week (I did a buttload of skeining, a lot of dyeing, some fabric knitting and a few strategy sessions to plan the growth of our biz – slow and steady – not too fast to handle!)

But I set aside dedicated time each day for just sitting and THINKING. Designing. Playing with yarn and NOT berating myself for ripping anything out.

I’m trying not to judge myself too harshly. I’m trying to take my own advice.

Bobbles & Texture!For me, the hard part about this submission deadline is that it’s for several magazines at one go, and it seems that each one wants me to submit an individual sketch ONLY to that mag (even though they’re all under the same publication umbrella.)  It’s so hard for me to figure out which sketch would speak to which description in the different “Calls for Submission.”

I’d love to find a way to let ALL of the editors see all of my stuff, so they could decide which speaks to then.

Garter Rectangular Jacket in Fall Interweave Knits

Garter Rectangular Jacket, Fall Interweave Knit.Purl Mag

Maybe I’ll just Dropbox them and give all the editors the link?

I hate the thought that Sketch 1 might be perfect for Editor A, but I send it instead to Editor B (who doesn’t find it as appealing as I’d hope…)

At any rate, I was flattered and gratified to see one of my current designs featured in one of the submission calls! It’s a garment I really loved designing and knitting up, if you haven’t seen it yet, it’s the Garter Rectangular Jacket in the current Fall 2015 Interweave Knit.Purl magazine.

Tomorrow I head off for a weekend of crafting with some women friends, something I don’t do often (which I should do more!)  I’ve promised to ONLY work on non-business knitting or sewing all weekend.  Let’s see if I can stick to that!

*Magazines send out a call for submission, where they explain the stories they’re looking to create in the specific issue. They discuss color, silhouette, and also general ethereal qualities like mood, feeling and atmosphere. If I feel inspired by some of the images or text, I’ll work up a swatch (generally – but not always – I begin with a swatch)  If I like the swatch, I’ll try to figure out how to use it in a garment. Or sometimes I work exactly opposite, and start with a silhouette, a period garment or a color scheme.

The Architecture of Socks

Screen Shot 2014-12-05 at 1.43.35 PMWhen people ask me, “What’s your favorite thing to knit?” the immediate answer that pops into my mind has never been, “Socks, of course!”

I’ve never been a ‘sock person’ (heck, I don’t even wear socks very often!)

I’ve knit many socks, I’ve designed a sock (okay, a pair of socks…) but although they’re not my go-to project of choice, I definitely appreciate sock knitters.

I’ve long felt that most of the staying power that the popularity of knitting has experienced over the past decade is due to the army of sock knitters who keep so much excitement bubbling in the knitting world.

Screen Shot 2014-12-05 at 1.44.54 PM

Great Illustrations

In my quest to more fully appreciate the mystery of the sock, I’ve read several great sock books (Cat Bordhi, Ann Budd, Andi Smith and Charlotte Schurch have all written amazing sock books)

I would put Lara Neel’s* new book, Sock Architecture, up there with them.

What I particularly like about Lara’s book are the instructions and images. She uses clear graphics and photographs to work,  step by step, through the techniques.

For a non-sock knitter like myself, these type of illustrations are very helpful. I can visualize a technique much better when I can see a few images, I really appreciate the amount of work that went into creating these images.

Screen Shot 2014-12-05 at 1.45.45 PMThe book begins with an explanation of certain sock verbiage, why different heels and toes are named as they are, and the main differences between Eastern and Western socks. Foot shapes,  sizes, and tailoring a sock for a specific foot are discussed in depth, as are tips and tricks for creating a really good-looking, well fitting sock.

The remainder of the book is divided into Top-Down and Toe-Up sock construction, with myriad heels and toes discussed under each topic.  Patterns are provided for each of the variations discussed, and helpful charts allow the knitter to determine whether one of the standard sizes listed would work for their sock, or how they can do the math to create a custom fit.

Screen Shot 2014-12-05 at 4.30.28 PMOne of the nice things about the book is – for lack of a better description – a ‘cut-and-paste’ layout which allows the knitter to either use the designs as written, or create their own design combining elements from various patterns.

As someone with rather long toes and a low arch, I find this SO helpful. Breaking down the patterns in this way also allowed me to understand more fully the actual construction of a sock.

I can’t see myself becoming a great sock knitter, but with Sock Architecture I will feel a bit less adrift when I tackle my next sock pattern.

*in full disclosure, Lara’s a friend of mine and photographed my upcoming Bolero book for Stackpole Press.

Giveaway

Cooperative Press, the publisher of Sock Architecture, is allowing me to give away a copy of the book (as an eBook) to a lucky blog reader!

Simply leave a comment below, tell me the most challenging technique (in a sock, or in any other type of knitting) you’ve attempted and you’ll be entered to win the eBook.

I’ll be selecting one winner on Monday, Dec 8th, by the end of business day.  Good luck!

Resting & ReCharging

4630409504_a6daaf6159_oOne thing about me that drives my husband nuts (one thing?) is how I tend to see every day things as a ‘sign’ of better things to come.

Usually I’m joking, sometimes I’m not, but when we were first married in 1993 I would often say something like, “See, that’s a SIGN that everything’s going to be fine!” and he’d just roll his eyes (looking for all the world like a 15-year old ME reacting to my mom.)

It’s been six weeks today since the arrival of Shingles in my life. I’ve been in such a fog (pain induced? pain MED induced? just generalized Annie-Confusion?) that some days it feels as though I’ve had Shingles for a week, some days it feels as though I’ve had it since the day I was born.

I’m taking the past two exceptional weekends of teaching as a sign that things are looking up,  and no one can convince me otherwise!

Current Car Crochet Project

Current Car Crochet Project

This past weekend my business partner, Kathleen Pascuzzi, and I had a booth at the North Country FIber Fair where I taught four classes and had a generally wonderful time! There are SO many little  shows like this around the country, which I see as an indication of the vitality of the fiber industry, but this was one of the sweetest.

I might feel that way because I have seldom taught classes feeling SO much in pain, and receiving such a boost from my students!

When I add to that the previous weekend in the Dallas area teaching for the Dallas Hand Knitting Guild and the Hand Knitters Guild of North Central Texas, I’m overwhelmed with the amount of love I’ve been shown this month!

TEXAS

One Hardworking Texas Class

One VERY Hardworking Texas Class

I have mixed feelings about Texas. I had a job there I absolutely hated and a boss who seemed gleeful every time he could make my life a bit harder (in all fairness, he was originally from Ohio)

But it’s also the place where my brother met his soul mate, where he lived and then passed away, and it’s where my mother also lived at the end of her life and where she died.

Having a loved one die in a place will always attach a lot of strong emotions to that location.

Mostly, though, I have a very hard time with heat.

But I got very lucky; not only was the Lone Star State going through a bit of a cool snap, but the host yarn shop for my classes, The Knitting Fairy in Grand Prairie, TX, was one of the coolest shops I’ve every visited (in both senses of the word – yay!)

A Hardworking TX Class at The Knitting Fairy

A Hardworking TX Class at The Knitting Fairy

Alissa, the owner of The Knitting Fairy, was incredibly welcoming and loving to everyone who came for classes, and made me feel as though I was visiting family. I’ve seldom felt so loved, so cared for, as I did when Alissa took charge of my comfort while I was in her shop. THANK YOU ALISSA!

It’s also quite obvious how well loved she is by her customers, which is as it should be!

Little known fact: Sprinklers in TX are pro choice!

Pro choice TX Sprinkler

After two days of classes for the Hand Knitters Guild, I was kidnapped on Saturday evening by Ron & Theresa Miskin of Buffalo Wool and taken out for some AMAZING chili, some drinking and some Outlander.

Beautiful Gift From The Dallas Knit Guild!

Beautiful Gift From The Dallas Knit Guild!

We visited with Lise from Knitting Rose Yarns (review of a Knitting Rose/Buffalo Wool yarn to come later this month) at her beautiful home, and I’m afraid I broke my main rule of teaching; NEVER GO OUT THE NIGHT BEFORE A CLASS.

I was able to pull it together for my Sunday Classes (just barely) but still feel guilty for not doing all I could to be 100% for my students. It was some damned good chili, though…

I felt so loved at my two gigs, and was BLOWN AWAY when I was given a lovely gift by the Dallas Guild just before I left, one of those wonderful yarn carousels which will be INCREDIBLY USEFUL as I re-ball odd FLOW skeins.

THANK YOU, EVERYONE IN TEXAS!

SOUTH DAKOTA

ROAD TRIP to SD!

ROAD TRIP to SD!

I joked one morning at breakfast while we were at Watertown, SD that every item on the menu was shaped like a president.

I ordered the FDR oatmeal, it looked like a dime!

But that was before I realized that we were staying at a hotel with a top notch chef in the restaurant!*

Our whole impression of Watertown was affected a bit by the extensive highway work that was going on outside of our hotel

When you’re driving a SUV with a Uhaul, it’s hard to get around all those traffic cones!

Selfie with Festival in Barn

Selfie with Festival in Barn

Road construction

is a necessary evil, though, and perhaps better roads will bring more folks to what was an extraordinary little fiber show, the North Country Fiber Fair.

There weren’t a lot of vendors, but the ones there were exceptional! Excellent yarns, gifts, baskets, buttons, ceramics, LOTS of spinning fibers and tools – just a wonderful variety of great small businesses!

It was if they’d distilled a larger fiber show and brought the best to South Dakota!

My classes were in a lovely, air conditioned room (they’ve got Rhinebeck beat by a mile, there!) and my students – well – it’s hard to praise them enough.

Charted Entrelac Class Swatches, AMAZING Work!

Charted Entrelac Class Swatches, AMAZING Work!

They were a confident, easy going bunch of friendly, wonderful students who took in everything I taught (and begged for more!)

The sheer openness and transparency of the folks in my classes was refreshing – like a stiff prairie breeze!

The drive out and back was a straight, 4-hour shot. Kathleen was magnificent as our driver-in-chief and head-booth-maven.

My job was to tell her where to turn.
We had exactly 3 turns in each way.

We did surprisingly well in sales for a show that wasn’t huge, which is another reason to love the NCFF!

*Minerva‘s, in Watertown, SD, is a restaurant you should visit if you’re in the area.  I will admit that we were NOT expecting such amazing food. Our last night there we had a pork chop dish that will be on the menu for their Octoberfest celebration in, uh, October. If you’re in the area, you need to get yourself over there for a meal!

But aren't we all just ANIMALS?

But aren’t we ALL just animals?

Archer Mitts

Archer Mitts shown in Officer Grimes/Daryl Dixon and Michonne/Hershel Greene

Archer Mitts shown in Officer Grimes/Daryl Dixon and Michonne/Hershel Greene

If you get my newsletter, you received a link for the Archer Mitts last week.

If not, here’s your link now!

They’re fun mitts, and — unusually for a free pattern — this involves techniques that are a bit beyond basic.

Provisional cast on? ICord Bind Off? Short Rows? Grafting? Creating a Thumb Gusset?

These are all techniques that you can try out with this simple pattern. Note that I said SIMPLE, which is not the same thing as EASY!

IMG_0810I’ve fallen in love with mitts; they’re not just fun to knit, they’re warm and allow full movement for your fingers. These are worked up in ModeLuxe, but to be honest you can use any worsted weight yarn (although ModeLuxe IS killer soft and delicious to knit up…)

I’ve been quiet because I’ve been dyeing up HUGE amounts of yarn, it’s selling like crazy, and I have more yarn waiting for me at home to dye up when I get back.

IMG_2406Where am I? I’m in Cleveland, preparing to tape a few segments of Knitting Daily TV tomorrow, and looking forward to seeing old friends!

I’m excited, but this evening is devoted to sitting still so my nail polish can dry, and figuring new ways to suck in my chins.

And now, MORE pictures of the lovely Archer Mitts (I can see Daryl wearing these during one of these Georgia snowstorms, right?)

Downton Abbey In Process

Tomorrow I’ll announce the winner of Kristin Omdahl’s book, Knitting Outside The Swatch.

Today, though, I thought I’d share some in-process images from my recent pieces in Downton Abbey Knits.  It was a BLAST to work on that issue of Piecework – I adore historic clothing, I’m a fan of Downton Abbey, and – well – we all know that knitting is my life.

Louet Yarn for several projects

Louet Yarn for several projects

So here are some of the in-process pics that I took.  I take a lot of these as I work through designs, but I don’t often publish them. I can’t let them loose before the issue I’m working on is released, and often by the time a magazine is out I’m onto other stuff and going back and revisiting the design process is low on my priority list.

But today I’m celebrating the release of some cool stuff (more about that tomorrow…) by sharing images of past work – enjoy!

Wedding Kimono & Hat

Wedding Kimono & Hat

Wedding Kimono Closeup

Wedding Kimono Closeup

 

Oval Garden Hat

Oval Garden Hat

Cricket Sweater

Cricket Sweater

PU Sts for Cricket Sweater Armhole

Picking Up stitches for Cricket Sweater Armhole

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mourning Blouse

Mourning Blouse

Footman's Vest

Footman’s Vest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And, of course, the obligatory pic of one of my kids wearing a design!

I’m lucky to have two great fit models living in the same house!

Footman's Vest

Footman’s Vest on Max

Cricket Sweater on Max

Cricket Sweater on Max

 

 
 

 

And can I take this opportunity to remind you to tweet #CaribouKnits – you still have a few more days to add some inches to a scarf for a person fighting Breast Cancer!

FREE Twisted Float Scarf Pattern!

IMG_2277So you like using the hashtag #CaribouKnits, but you’re thinking, “Hey, what about some HAND knitting action?”

I hear you. Or I hear your internal thoughts. Yes, scary.

So here’s a free pattern for all of you!

Knit up a Twisted Float Side Knit Scarf and use up some of that worsted weight or bulky yarn you have lying around!

This scarf uses the twisted float technique that I like so much, but in this case it’s worked over 2 sts, not just one.

Closeup of the TechniqueIt’s a pretty simple technique, but the effect is very striking.

By working this technique in one direction for half the row, then working it in the opposite direction for the other half, your yarn will twist, then untwist itself, making the experience much more fun!

Knit this up, enjoy the free Twisted Float Side Knit Scarf pattern, and use it to create charity garments (or just a great gift for a friend!)

And have a cup of Caribou Coffee (or tea) while you knit – keep yourself warm, too!

Well, I SAID I was a Heretic…


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