15 February 2019

Farewell to The Whole Nine Yarns

Well, today is the last day The Whole Nine Yarns will be open.

It has been a privilege to be part of the community that Debi and the rest of the crew built over the years in Woodstock. Together we have supported each other through the happy and the sad, through projects that went well and projects that went to the great frog pond. We have celebrated the joys. And we have knit on through all adversity, as Elizabeth Zimmermann advised.

For more than a decade the shop has been my home away from home. In the last couple years I have been absent from knit nights, as the traffic to Woodstock and the time required became prohibitive. I've spent more weekends traveling for work or pleasure, so fewer opportunities to teach in the shop. But even when I was away for a month, going back to the shop was returning home, returning to someplace safe and warm and welcoming, someplace where there would always be hugs and comfort. I feel the loss a little bit right now. I am sure I will feel it more in the coming weeks as this loss transforms from being theoretical to being real.

So it is here I pause and say publicly, thank you for the opportunity to grow myself as a teacher and designer. I got my start at JoAnn's and then Purly Gates, but I really grew my skills at The Whole Nine Yarns. Thank you to Debi, of course, but also Karen, Jenna, Jan, Gabby, Terri, Maritza, Mariana, and anybody else I am forgetting. Thank you to the wonderful students I have had the joy of teaching.

The universe is saying, "Okay, Dumbo, time to put down the feather and fly on your own."

If you want to stay connected to this community, please join the One More Row Woodstock group on Ravelry. We will be meeting at the Copper Coin in Woodstock in the evening this Tuesday 19 February 2019.

09 February 2019

Exponent, Part 3

The last part of the pattern is the bind-off.

The interesting thing about a pattern that doubles is that each new increase round and plain round uses about as much yarn as the whole pattern up to that point.

Let's say you start at the very center with one pair.
Cast-on: 1 pair.
Set-up round:1 pair.
At this point, you have worked 2 pairs total.

1st round: increase to 2 pairs.
The increase round contained as many stitches as the previous 2 rounds.
2nd round: plain round of 2 pairs.
At this point, you have worked 4 more pairs, so 6 pairs total in the project.

3rd round: increase to 4 pairs.
The third round uses as much yarn as rounds 1 & 2.
4th round: plain round of 4 pairs.
At this point, you have worked 8 more pairs. Add to the previous 6 pairs, and you have worked 14 pairs total.

5th round: increase to 8 pairs.
The fifth round uses as much yarn as rounds 3 & 4.
6th round: plain round of 8 pairs.
At this point, you have worked 16 more pairs. Add to the previous 14 pairs, and you have worked 30 pairs total.

7th round: increase to 16 pairs.
The seventh round uses as much yarn as round 5 & 6.
8th round: plain round of 16 pairs.
At this point, you have worked 32 more pairs. Add to the previous 30 pairs, and you have worked 62 pairs total.

As you can see, each time you work an increase round and a plain round, you use up about as much yarn as you have used to this point in the project. Every time you work an increase round, you use as much yarn as the previous increase round and plain round combined. If you weigh your yarn as you go, it is easy to know when to bind off. Depending on your choice of bind-off, you may be consuming a little more yarn than a normal round.

If you have just worked a plain round and about half your yarn remains, work an increase round and then bind-off on the plain round.

Or, weigh every pair of increase rounds and plain rounds. When the most recent pair of rounds about matches what remains, work an increase round binding off as you go. If the most recent pair of rounds weighs about half of what remains, work an increase round followed by binding-off on a plain round.

There are a couple ways to bind-off. You can simply bind-off in pattern. For a more structured edge, use a flat (Japanese) three-needle bind-off. You can work it on knitting needles or with a crochet hook. And you don't need to divide the knits and purls of the ribbing on to separate needles.

If you want to purchase a fully written-up copy of Exponent, you can find it here on Ravelry.

08 February 2019

Exponent, Part 2

The pattern for Exponent alternates plain rounds of 1×1 ribbing with rounds of Y-increases. The Y-increase is a knitting heresy. Normally, you can't knit into the same stitch twice. If you try it, you will discover that all you do is add a wrap, making the stitch taller but not making more stitches. Versa lace is ribbing based. Instead of having a single stitch, you have a pair of stitches. This means you can work knit 1, purl 1, then back up and work knit 1, purl 1 in the same stitches again. As you can see in the detail photograph, the effect looks like two stitches coming out of one. And they are bilaterally symmetrical, meaning there is no left-leaning or right-leaning version of this.

I have not yet put in the time exploring, but I suspect there may be some crochet maneuvers that can be mimicked in knitting using this technique.

07 February 2019

Exponent, Part 1

Well, 2018 really got away from me. This pattern, Exponent, was written for Christmas in July 2017. In fact, I wrote about it in two different posts in July 2017. I had a couple sample mini-skeins from festival goodie bags. It is fun to get yarn, but what are you going to do with only 10 yards? I worked Exponent as a hair accessory by starting with an encasement cast-on. But you could also start with a reversible pinhole cast-on and make a shower poof or a flower or a cat toy. It might be interesting to work this with a novelty yarn such as jelly yarn or wire. Or you could work it in Pantone's color of the year (living coral) and make a knitted coral.

Here is the basic version of the pattern:
encasement cast-on around the hair elastic
work a round of 1×1 ribbing
work a round of Y-increases in every stitch pair
repeat the plain round and the increase round until about half the yarn remains
bind off

Part of why it took so long to post the pattern was that I wanted to shoot new videos. I finally got to that at the beginning of this year.

I learned the encasement cast-on from Gwen Bortner at the very first STITCHES South in 2009. I've asked Gwen, and she confirms this is her own unvention, rather than something she found in a book.

If you prefer to make a cat toy or a shower poof, use the center-out reversible cast-on.

More video tutorials tomorrow.

05 January 2019


A decade ago, I was president of Atlanta Knitting Guild. The very first STITCHES South was on the horizon. I had just lost a dear cat (Copernicus), but did not realize I would lose the other one (Sophia) in a few months. In October of 2008, I had a falling out with a very dear friend who helped me fight off the clinical depression monster. That broken friendship would not be mended for almost a decade. I was making friends at The Whole Nine Yarns, but did not know I would lose one later that summer.

Here we are, a decade later. I lost a cat (Brûlée) in November. This time, I will not be surprised if I lose the other one (Vincent) within a few months. I lost my knitting mentor, Jan Stephens, back in September. We lost two other North Georgia Knitting Guild members in 2018, Claudia Pergason and Christine Cardenas. I was thinking that maybe 2019 would be different. Instead, we lost our North Georgia Knitting Guild newsletter editor, Nadine Kelley, on the first day of this new year. It isn't feeling very new.

On the second day of this new year, I found out what all of you now know — The Whole Nine Yarns is closing its doors in six weeks. For me, it has been more than a yarn shop and more than a place to teach. It has been a community. I remember driving to Woodstock on the day my knitting muse, Bruce Corrigan, died. It was a Tuesday, which meant knit night. I remember hugging Jenna and crying and crying that Bruce couldn't possibly be gone. The man had season tickets to the opera! He had plans. He had unfinished lace shawls. He needed to be here. But I also celebrated publishing in the magazines. It was exciting when the Fall 2017 issue of Spin-Off came into the store with my article inside. It was great to celebrate life milestones with other people. Watching Gabby's journey of marrying and becoming a mother brought great joy. I will be sorry the shop will be closed when Gabby's new baby arrives later this year. Even when I traveled and was away for several weeks, stepping back in the shop always felt like coming home. Often there would be a serendipitous meeting of someone I hadn't seen in awhile. A couple of times Bruce's sister, Patty, dropped in when she saw my car parked out front.

On the third day of this new year, my father-in-law, Jim Barron, passed away. I wasn't close to my in-laws. They lived on the West Coast, so I typically saw them only every few years. But they were good people. If the measure of a man is to count his friends, as Charles Dickens proposed, then Jeff Bezos is a pauper compared to my father-in-law. He had worked in agricultural extension and had friends everywhere. There are many tears to cry.

Late in the evening on the third day of this new year, Tom Britton, president of South Carolina Knitting Guild, passed away from a heart attack. Tom was somebody I met through travels and shows. His enthusiasm for life and knitting were infectious. And he hugged a big, warm greeting as if he had been waiting all year to see you again. His light burned bright.

While Cuddly Hubby has been home for nearly a year, his temporary assignment to Georgia is wrapping up. By the end of January, he will be working back in Maryland.

When STITCHES United starts 125 days from now, much will have changed. That whole area of Cobb County looks different. There is a baseball field where the duck pond used to be. There are express lanes and new highway at the interchange between I-285 and I-75. There is a pedestrian bridge connecting Cobb Galleria Center with Suntrust Park. There is a new bigger and fancier electronic sign for Cobb Galleria. Instead of a little shopping center strip on the other side of the expressway, there is indoor skydiving. On the other side of Cobb Parkway, Cumberland Mall has been transformed.

But I will also pause and notice what is missing. The little Volkswagen Beetle advertising The Whole Nine Yarns won't be parked near the entrance to the convention center. Mark and Suzy from Kollage Yarns won't be sponsors, as they have sold off and dissolved their business. Bruce won't be there. I may be down to one or even zero cats. I won't be president of Atlanta Knitting Guild.

But I must also pause and notice what has appeared. There will be other fabulous vendors. There will be new friends and friends I have met in the last decade. North Georgia Knitting Guild is no longer a new little guild taking its first steps; it is a vibrant established guild in its own right. In time, I like to think there will be a new pair of wonderful knitter's cats. And instead of being a guild president, I will be a teacher at the show.

Cuddly Hubby reminds me that aging is often about giving things up. You realize a particular hobby you once loved has been ignored for years. You change out an old goal for a new one as life takes a different direction. You clean out the house to make room for whatever is coming next.

That miserable year of late 2008 into 2009 reset my world for the 2010s. I am guessing the great changes of 2018 into 2019 will reset my world for the 2020s?

Update on Monday 7 January: And I just found out from Alasdair Post-Quinn's e-mail newsletter that the fabulous online knitting magazine Twist Collective has dissolved.