25 April 2010

Day 4 of STITCHES South 2010

In spite of the teaching being done, I still didn't sleep all that well on Saturday night. The convention is just so much fun, and my head is racing with ideas that all need to be worked out now, dang it!

For Sunday morning I took Carson Demers "Ergonomics for Knitters" class. I believe I had asked for a class like this on last year's feedback form. Alas, I don't recall the name of the knitter, but I sat next to someone who was wearing a beautiful blue, purple, and green Ann Feitelson Fair Isle cardigan. Hmmm, maybe it really is a good idea for the air conditioning to be turned up. Seeing a sweater like that in person makes you want to throw everything else aside and give Fair Isle a try.

Carson's class was exactly what you would expect. He did a wonderful job explaining what ergonomics is and what risk factors to watch. I got a little lost with some of the anatomy lesson, but it was fascinating none the less. And he had several videos of people knitting. It was amazing to see how many ways different people do this. There was one lady who knit super fast English style. There was another whose movements were so restful and soothing and thoroughly zen. I also felt very fortunate as most of the people in the class were there because they already had a problem with their hands or arms. Whit Robbins was in the class and she was one of the few who was there just to be sure she didn't develop issues. I was there because I need to be able to knit 40 hours a week if I want to accomplish my career goals. And I need to be sure I don't ruin my hands. So this class was definitely worth it.

At lunch time I went over to the market just to hang out. I saw local Gale Evans of Gale's Art whose work is always a colorful pleasure to spin. I finally met Jen Hagan of Figheadh Designs in person. She is such a delight! She comes to the Atlanta area about once a year to see family, so I hope one of the guilds will be able to snag her for a program sometime. I went over to the Trendsetter booth to thank Barry Klein for the student banquet goodies. On my way to find his booth, I passed Windy Valley Musk Ox and a fabulous sample sweater with very interesting cables and tucks. I failed my will save against that very interesting pattern. Like much of the crowd, I eventually ended up over near the stage to await the drawing of the grand prize. This is the part where XRX gives out money. While waiting, I bumped into Gro, Amy, and Dana. It was so good to see Dana, who is a new bride only a month! I had put a card with a gift card in my purse for the weekend just in case I ran into her. So that worked out perfectly. The winning names weren't people I knew, but all that standing near the Yarn Place booth caused me to fail my will save against Herbert Niebling's Lyra pattern. I bought the kit with a dark violet lace yarn. Ahhhh.

My last class for the convention was "3-2-1: Three 2-color patterns, one color at a time" with Merike Saarniit. I took her Estonian Patent stitch class last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. There were several familiar faces in this class again. I got to sit between local amazing knitter Pam Cornutt and somebunnyslove. People take classes with Merike again and again. The Estonian knitting tradition is so rich and so interesting. The manipulations that have been invented are clever and fascinating. We started with an interesting double-stranded cast-on that produced a firm and decorative edge. Merike showed us a faux entrelac that is very stretchy and swirly. It could be used to make basic swirl socks, which somehow don't require heel turns because of the swirl construction. And that pattern made the cast-on edge scallop just a bit. She also showed us an embraced stitch and two patent stitch patterns. A number of people left early because they needed to catch flights home. And many, many people asked Merike about her book. It is going to be lovely when it comes out. And I'm not pestering her about the timing because I know it all takes much longer than it ought.

After class, I went over to the AKG booth which was already mostly broken down. Thank you to everyone who helped with that! I basically just took the balloons away. I do not know how a dozen mylar balloons and all my STITCHES stuff fit in the back of the Zippy Sippy, but somehow it all did. I still had blankets and shawls, so I was able to weight down the balloons so I could see out the rear view mirror. I was home by about 5:15 PM. It will take me the week to put everything away. Once again, a truly awesome weekend!

24 April 2010

Day 3 of STITCHES South 2010

Now I wasn't afraid about staying up late because I had nothing planned for Saturday morning. This was done purposefully. I left myself time if I had needed to do anything last-minute for my class. Since I was already prepared, my plan was to sleep in, then teach. Well, between the Earl Grey, the thrill of the party, and the excitement of teaching, I just couldn't sleep. I did a lot of lying in bed pretending I was asleep, and maybe a little light dozing. Eventually I got up and went in to the convention, figuring that I might as well sit and knit since sleeping clearly wasn't happening.
That was okay, because it gave me a chance to go spend that Knit Witch gift certificate. I picked out some beautiful light blue lace weight yarn. The yarn bowls were also tempting, but I just don't trust Brûlée and Vincent when it comes to pottery within reach of their paws. Thank you, Brittany, for the door prize!

I think class went well. For some reason, it took longer than it did the last time I taught it. I'll have to decide if I want to drop a sweater from the group or not. A big thank you to the fourteen ladies who took my class! I hope you all had a very good time and learned something new. I'll see the feedback forms in a couple months. I hope all of you gave honest feedback so I can teach better and so Rick knows if it is worth bringing me back. It was truly a pleasure to meet you all.

I should note here that Karen from Clicks and Sticks took my class. And she had a The Whole Nine Yarns button! Somehow I didn't get one of those buttons. And by the time I went to the shop on Monday for spin night, all the buttons were gone. Maybe Debi will do it again next year? Also, during the coffee break, I bumped into Jean Frost. Her daughter had failed to get one of the limited edition Ravelry at STITCHES South buttons, so I gave her mine. Perhaps we'll need a place for button trading at STITCHES?

At this point I need to mention a big thank you to the local folks who have been so supportive. I lost track of the number of people who came up to ask me how it went or to offer their support. North Georgia Knitting Guild had a nice tri-fold backdrop of various events, and one of them had a picture of me. They also had the Monkey Wrench square hanging up. Atlanta Knitting Guild let me put the Felted Southwestern Bowl out on their table. And I suspect that Debi Light and the rest of The Whole Nine Yarns crew have been saying nice things behind my back. Ya'all are why Atlanta is where my home is.

After class I reloaded my car and went to the market. Specifically, I went to knit on the Big Sock some more, but did a bit of chatting on the way. I stopped at the Skacel booth and said hello to Karin Skacel, who is a big fan of sock monkeys. I said hello again to Otto of Strauch fibers who saved me $600 by not bringing the drum carders to the show. I probably won't be so lucky next year. I did get to the Big Sock. I even found a dropped stitch and learned how to pick it up with a latch hook. Cool! I had finished a needle's worth and just moved on to the second when I remembered that teachers are supposed to get to the Student Banquet early. Scurry!

Before the banquet I got to chat with Joan Schrouder and Beth Brown-Reinsel. I've taken classes with both of these ladies and they are wonderful. And Beth's Knitting Ganseys book is an excellent classic! Ideally there should be one teacher at each table during the student banquet, so I moved to an empty table when the doors opened. I got lucky because I got to meet more great ladies, including Lorri who later won the whole fashion show with her handspun vest. I am glad, because this means she'll be back next year. Unfortunately, I didn't actually get to see Lorri on stage because I was out with the other teachers, posing for a group photo. But that was cool, too.

I happen to really like the Student Fashion Show. I love show and tell. I love sharing, but I also love seeing what other people are doing. And part of going to STITCHES is making new friends and meeting them again year after year. Last year Phyllis from Mississippi wowed with a sunrise jacket and matching shoes that were custom made in Italy. This year she showed a beautiful cabled reversible coat that also got her a prize. I think next year we should just start off with Phyllis as a returning champion, sort of like Iron Chef. Nancy the Knitting Gourmet had a whole ensemble of coat, hat, and mitts all with food names. Nancy was in Edie's Friday class, so I like to think we'll be seeing and hearing more from her. Diana Baber showed off a beautiful Candace Eisner-Strick shawl in the colors of the sunrise. Three ladies from Clicks and Sticks had made the Swirl Shawl as a knit along. Hats off to them, as I've heard that those hexagons can be less interesting after the first ten, tiresome after the first twenty, and slogging to the end.

And after the banquet, I found Betty Salpekar. She was able to autograph my sock book. I'll have to catch Charles D. Gandy and Amy Rutter on some other occasion. I was able to wish Betty good-bye before she left for Holland. I know she is working on a sock book. We talked some about the challenges of writing a knitting book. Betty has been knitting exclusively socks for some time now. If you are a creative knitter who likes to try new things, it is a real challenge to knit similar items over and over again. We also both have the good fortune to be able to live off our husband's single incomes. You would think with all this free time, it would be nothing to crank out a knitting book. How is it you have 40 hours a week and yet your work all moves slow as snails? A mystery, indeed.

23 April 2010

Day 2 of STITCHES South 2010

For Friday I wore the Bootkicked scarf. I also carried the Elfin Lace shawl and wore it a couple times. I have mixed feelings about appropriate room temperature. On the one hand, I don't like to be cold. On the other hand, if the knitters are cold, then they are wearing fabulous knitwear. Maybe keeping things a little on the cool side is appropriate in these circumstances.

Friday was an all-day pattern writing class with Edie Eckman. She did a great job explaining how submissions are done within the industry. She also showed us how hard it is to write a pattern to the industry standard. Our practice sample was a flat sweater pattern graded in four sizes. Writing it in the shorthand of the knitting world was really hard. It was also harder than I expected because I don't knit sweaters from flat patterns, so it really hurt my brain to try to think that way. I would much rather draw out shoulder and neck shaping on graph paper than try to explain how many stitches to bind off when and where, and I'd rather knit from a European or Japanese pattern that uses the charted standard. Of all the classes I took, I think this one probably will have the most influence in which directions I pursue and what I do next. I know already that I don't want to make myself crazy knitting on deadline. And I know I want my patterns to be teaching, which falls outside the industry standard. If you are somebody who is thinking about designing in this industry, you need to go take classes with Edie.

And one plug for her: her Around the Corner Crochet Borders book is coming out next month. It has 150 edgings explained both in words and diagrams and they are figured out for turning the corner in pattern. Would that everyone would be so wonderful when they write edgings!

I should also add that sometime half the fun is who else is in the class. Susan Dingle who designs for Only Ewe and Cotton Too was in the class, as was Nancy the Knitting Gourmet. And my friend Debra Davis, who has the most awesome stash! It was such a delight to take a class with these ladies.

I did go knit on the Big Sock after that. I needed a little therapy for my hurt brain, and the Big Sock was it. Aaaaah.

Friday evening was the dinner and fashion show. All the fashion was geared to Atlanta weather. If you think there isn't anything to knit for warm weather, you didn't see this show. And I never cease to be amazed at how Rick Mondragon can find the right skirt in that strange shade of green or the proper print to really bring an outfit together. I remember thinking that if we all looked that fabulously dressed most of the time how much happier a world it would be.

I was also especially happy to see certain items in the show. The first item out was a group of socks from The Whole Nine Yarns sock guild. One of the featured socks was Bruce's "Solar Wind" sock. In all the bustle in the run up to STITCHES, I had missed the part about the socks being in the fashion show. It meant a lot to me. My dear friend Jenna the Yarn Pimp had an original lace design in the fashion show. Kelly (go, Kentucky!) did special one-of-a-kind hand-dyed yarn for Jenna's pattern. And Ducky from the Knit Lit group knit the sample. I was sitting in the audience with Mary Lou, Laurie, and Julie, who are all The Whole Nine Yarns regulars. Rick kept saying "yards" instead of "yarns," and we kept yelling corrections. There's a reason I gladly drive the 50 miles round trip to get to the shop.

At the dinner afterward, I won a door prize -- $25 gift certificate for Knit Witch, who is local and wonderful. Glee!

Then I went to the pajama party. A huge thank you to Kimberly Reynolds aka somebunnyslove for organizing the Big Sock and the Pajama Party. Many of the XRX people showed up in pajamas, as did Shannon from Cascade. I loved Benjamin Levisay in a smoking jacket. Who knew he gets Hugh Hefner's cast offs? Alexis Xenakis sent down a fresh fruit bouquet for healthy snacking. My Japanese-themed ensemble included felted slippers with embroidery to match the lining of my robe.They were made from the Fiber Trends "Felted Clog" pattern. There were many other wonderful ensembles on display. One lady had sock monkey slippers and had made pajama bottoms out of monkey-print fabric. Another had a flashy sleeping mask and slippers made from novelty yarn. When it came time for the slipper contest, I scurried up at the last minute.(I had been at the bar getting hot water for my Earl Grey tea. By the way, be sure to support Kollage yarns. Mark was at the bar drinking a lite beer, and that just ain't right.) I turned to look at the person to my right, who was wearing a fabulous Christmas pajama ensemble with matching crocheted santa slippers. It was kagknits, whose Ravelry avatar is a picture of Lun Lun. So I was able to give her a free pass to ZooAtlanta, and I gave some extra passes to Team Ravelry and a knitter who had come all the way from Australia. There were four winners in the slipper contest, and we all got a little Skacel bag with a needle, pattern, and a six-ply Zauberball. More glee!
Thank you Skacel! There were prizes for best pajamas and prizes for best sheep-themed pajamas and prizes for the person who had been knitting the longest (Jan Stephens, adorable in a great Ma Kettle nightgown) and the person who had been knitting the shortest. Sarah and I even bowed down and prostrated ourselves before Casey the codemonkey. In the end we had owners of a publishing company, owners of yarn companies, vendors, teachers, knitters, designers, and Internet idols all hanging out in the lobby in our pajamas. Is this industry great or what? I left a little before midnight. I'm sure the evidence is out on the web somewhere. Don't Google it.

22 April 2010

Day 1 of STITCHES South 2010

First, thank you to everyone who makes STITCHES South happen. That includes XRX, who throws the party; but also the sponsors who give us all the fabulous prizes; the vendors who bring lots of gorgeous wares to dispose of our tax refunds and support the economic recovery; and the teachers who leave our minds swimming with new ideas and techniques. Once again, STITCHES was the best weekend of the year. Here's the story of my weekend.

Once again, I started off with the Opening Day presentation. I had to leave early for the teachers' lunch, so I missed Jane Slicer-Smith's part of the presentation. But I did hear Leslye Solomon. Leslye showed scientific evidence of why you have to wash and block your gauge swatch. She knit identical swatches, washed one but not the other, and then compared them. Oh my gosh! A knitter's horror show for sure! No wonder we think our swatches lie.

Because I knew I would be doing the Teacher's à la carte lunch, I made it a point to wear the recently completed Cropped Linen Stitch Jacket. It is very much in style right now, and the origami construction is my own invention, although I'm sure someone out there has done it before. It is also fun asking people which side they like best, as linen stitch is reversible but not identical. I had a blast. I got to meet lots of new people, including Team Ravelry and Clicks and Sticks, a knitting guild over in Gwinnett County.

For the afternoon, I took Jean Frost's "Chasing the Hounds, Tooth that Is" class. I took this mostly because I don't know how soon Jean will be retiring. Her jackets are classic and fabulous. In this class, she showed us thirteen different hounds tooth patterns -- more than we could try out in three hours. My swatch with four different patterns is at left. Some involved stranded knitting, some involved slipped stitch knitting using only one color at a time, and some involved very interesting passing stitches over other stitches maneuvers. I was very lucky in that Betty Salpekar was in my class and sat next to me. Betty and I both like to be exposed to new stitch patterns, but we also enjoy trying them different ways.

I got a quick lesson from Betty. While we were knitting a Fair Isle/stranded hounds tooth pattern, there was some discussion about holding the yarn. I usually hold one strand in each hand, but my tension is not perfectly the same. Depending on the yarn, that might or might not block out. I know Meg Swansen knits stranded with both yarns in her left hand. I asked if anyone had worked out how to hold both strands in the right hand. It turns out that's how Betty does it, and she was kind enough to show me. The trick was in how she tensioned the yarn over her ring finger. I usually tension by wrapping yarn around my pinkie. This led to a discussion with Jean about different methods of holding yarn and the various geographic regions associated with each. It was a fascinating discussion.

Jean also was kind enough to show off three of her own hounds tooth jackets. She even passed them around the room. Marian Rose was seated on the far side of the room from me, and she was ooooing and aaaahing over a red and grey jacket. By the time it got around to me, I could see that every cooing sound had been more than justified. It was wonderful to look carefully at a master knitter's work to see what she did. Jean seams her jackets together using a crochet chain, so she does have a small one-stitch selvage in her seams. She also edges her jackets with a single crochet edge. All three of the jackets she shared with us were worked in a fine gauge yarn, so the crochet edging was not wide. It is just a quiet detail that gives the jacket structure and refinement without the viewer being conscious of why or how.

The evening consisted of shopping in the market. My birthday falls about a month before STITCHES South, so I'd kept the money gifts aside for the occasion. Somehow I missed that the Think Outside the Sox book signing was going on. Duh! I will have to catch locals Charles Gandy and Amy Rutter some other time. I did pick up a copy of the book at Only Ewe and Cotton Too, because it is always nice to support Elyse and Bill. I spent a lot of time searching but still didn't find a red ribbon yarn that suits my needs. But I did find something that might work for the Carolyn Jacket. After much indecisiveness and an inability to recall which booth had lace weight Zauberballs, I bought hand-dyed yarn from Knitting Notions. I'm also a serious knitting book junkie. Big thanks to Yarn Barn of Kansas for bringing Lucy Neatby dvds and a great book selection. I was able to acquire Maria Erlbacher's Twisted-Stitch Knitting, which is a 2009 reprinting and compilation of three smaller booklets. Also many thanks to Handweavers Guild of America who had some rare books, including Daina Taimina's Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes and Bobbie Irwin's The Spinner's Companion. These wish list items are now securely in my library where they belong.

The evening was capped off with a big Ravelry party. A huge thank-you to Team Ravelry for sharing the weekend with us. Also a big thanks to all the sponsors. The mug with yarn samples is from Eat Sleep Knit. I haven't been over there yet, but they are in fact the closest yarn shop to my house. The coupon inside the mug included directions for how to find them, so I will need to check them out. There were goodies from other sponsors, too, including some very nice door prizes. On the downside, some of the goodies were coupons for places where I had just shopped in the market. I guess procrastination does pay off.

19 April 2010

Black & White Magic

It has been more than four years since I've taught double knitting. That's a real shame, because it is so much fun to do and so much fun to teach. This is one of those techniques that is a real delight because people think it is so much harder than it is. Students come into the class nervous or unsure, and leave feeling like they can work magic. It is wonderful.

For my class in May, I've chosen to make a less-intimidating sample by working the chart for the "Ukrainian Tiles" afghan. The book is Comfort Knitting & Crochet Afghans by Norah Gaughan, Margery Winter, and the Berroco Design Team (New York, NY: Stewart, Tabori & Chang 2010). I don't really need an afghan book, but this one has some delightful and interesting patterns. Because afghans are large empty canvases tossed around the house, there is a lot of opportunity for playfulness in stitch pattern and color. After all, an afghan doesn't need to pass the same fashion wear-ability tests as a sweater. For my sample, I used some leftover Cascade 220 rather than the Berroco Comfort called for in the pattern. Blasphemy, I know! Also be aware that the pattern in the book is written for stranded knitting not double knitting. I've worked the chart twice in order to get something close to a square.

There aren't a lot of books out on this technique, either. One of the few is Double Knitting: Reversible Two-Color Designs by M'Lou Baber (Pittsville WI: Schoolhouse Press, 2008). Blessings on Meg Swansen and the rest of the folks at Schoolhouse Press for their willingness to distribute and publish knitting books on some of the less popular techniques. True to the title, this book will give you the basic run-down on how to do double-faced reversible stockinette. Most of the projects are fabulous coats. Those would require a considerable investment in materials and time, but would be showpieces for years to come. You would be hoping for long cool spells and non-existent summers just to flaunt your finished project. If you want a smaller helping of the technique, the adorable and traditional child's bonnet would be perfect for a special child in your family. Or if you prefer less shaping and knitting for yourself, the cat shoulder bag would be a useful accessory year 'round.

Ms. Baber gives a nice technique for keeping the edges closed but tidy, and also has directions for 1x1 reversible ribbing. There are other more complicated techniques that she does not include. For example, she doesn't get into how to knit lettering, which involves knitting two sides that are not perfect mirror images of each other. And she doesn't discuss more elaborate knit and purl reversible patterns. Nor does she cover buttonholes in double knitting. But the directions for the techniques she does cover are clear and nicely photographed. Most of her designs draw from the traditions of European knitting so that the finished projects would always be classics. She also includes a few more modern designs for those who would like to push the edge of fashion. The decision to add this book to my library was a no-brainer.

14 April 2010

Instant Gratification

North Georgia Knitting Guild plans to knit an afghan or two as a charity project. The blocks need to be exactly 8-inches square. I decided to try a square for a quick change of pace. Sometimes a knitter needs instant gratification. Fortunately, I have the full run of Knitter's magazine's afghan series. Those of you who know my fondness for geometry will not be surprised that I picked the block by Linda Cyr in The Great North American Afghan booklet (Sioux Falls SD: XRX, Inc. 1999, second printing 2008, pp. 40-41). The North American afghan is the second booklet in this series. In addition to the geometry, I liked that this block is worked from the center out, which meant that I could knit until it was big enough. And I could fudge and add a few border rows at the end if it came out to seven inches square instead of eight.

I got lucky, and it seems to be right on the money at eight inches square. The booklet lists this as one of the five hardest blocks, but I don't understand why. There is quite a bit of picking up stitches on selvage edges -- maybe that's why? There is a tiny bit of either grafting or seaming at the center. And the block itself is garter stitch with decreases for shaping.

A couple things to keep in mind if you try this. For the center four little squares, I recommend using Lucy Neatby's waste yarn method for setting up a grafted seam.
In this case:
Cast on and work the first row of square 1 in waste yarn.
As you join in the working yarn, leave a tail long enough to graft the row.
Complete the remainder of square 1 with the working yarn.
Complete squares 2, 3, and 4 as written in the pattern.
Using waste yarn, pick up along the edge of square 4 as if starting square 1.
Using the two rows of waste yarn -- one at the beginning of square 1 and one along the edge of square 4 -- as guides, graft squares 1 and 4 together with the long tail yarn.
Remove waste yarn.
Wallow in the glow of your success.

The other change I made to this pattern as I worked has to do with the selvage edges. Usually I'm very happy to pick up along the edge of garter stitch. It is typically pretty easy to pick up in each little bump. Or you can work a slipped-stitch edging and pick up in the chain stitch. It is not so easy in this pattern because you have to decrease at both edges in order to make the triangular sections. A slipped-stitch edge does not really work because of those decreases. And as the blanket grows, you have to pick up more than one stitch for every ridge. My solution was to work the selvages of the triangles in stockinette.
Thus, a right side row might be: ssk, knit 11, k2tog
And the following wrong side row would be: p1, k11, p1
The result is a chain edge that has one chain per row rather than one chain per ridge. You can pick up the correct number in this edge by picking up in most of the chains but not all of them. I found skipping a chain now and then to be easier than trying to create something between ridge bumps in the garter selvage.

The original block has several more iterations of triangles than mine does. You can make the block as large or small as you like by adding or deleting iterations. Once established, this pattern is worked from the center out with four different skeins without breaking the yarn. This would be a fabulous project for a long-print yarn like Kureyon, Karaoke, Paintbox, Geologie, or Mochi Plus. I think it would also look good in a medium-length print like Tonalita. Several of these blocks joined together with the pattern flowing from one spiral into another would be dynamite. It would also be great with half in a plain dark yarn and the other half in a bright long-print. If someone experiments, please let me see your results.

11 April 2010

An Alternative Edging

Because I've taught the Baby Surprise Jacket several times, I've worked up several of them in different yarns and with slightly different details. This striped example requires about four skeins of Trendsetter Tonalita. Note that Tonalita is a variegated yarn that does not have a pattern repeat -- the color changes are completely random. The color changes are also several feet apart instead of just a few inches, but not the many yards apart of Kureyon, Karaoke, Paintbox, or Mini Mochi. On this pattern, the color will change about every-other row. You can see that the stripes on the left side of the picture are more solid, while the stripes on the right side are more broken. This occurs because of how odd-colored blips poke through in purl bumps.

I am to the point of trying things out on BSJ just for the sake of seeing what happens. For a change of pace, I used a Debbie New's double increase instead of the make 1 left and right Elizabeth Zimmermann recommends. I also changed the double-decrease to a mitered double-decrease.
Furthermore, I decided to add an edging that I unvented on the Bamboo kimono. This is a faux crab stitch edging in that it has some of the twisty quality of crab stitch, but without using a crochet hook. To the right of the button detail, the verdigris with lavender row is the edging. This is a 2-stitch i-cord made from purl 1, ssk. The purl stitches become the twisty bits and the ssk form a chain stitch wale. I think this would be a great edge on sample afghan blocks, as the border would set them off but the chain stitch would make for easier seaming.

10 April 2010

Baby Surprise again and again

I've been teaching Elizabeth Zimmermann's classic Baby Surprise Jacket as a class that meets three times. This is such a fun class to teach, as every student ends up with something different. This is a pattern that can be customized in a variety of ways. I've had some students make it with doubled or tripled yarn on large needles so that it becomes a jacket or coat for a young child. One student was knitting for her twin grandsons, so she made two in coordinating but not identical colorways. It always looks good. And it is always fun to watch people's faces as they try to figure out where they are as this thing unfolds on their needles.

Most times that I teach it, I knit another Baby Surprise Jacket. It has been fun for me to try different things. This little jacket is made from Koigu KPPPM (the orange and the purples) and Plymouth Happy Feet (the red). The whole jacket weighs 65 grams, with the buttons. Note to self: finding small orange buttons is not easy. I got lucky at the big box store. Because I was working with Koigu, I worked all the stitches in this project through the back of the loop. In this detail, you can see how the twisted stitches "pop" with strong stitch definition.

I also changed the back a little bit. Because I needed more rows to keep my pattern going (2 purple ridges, 4 red ridges), I worked the back extension for 12 ridges. Also, I usually break my yarn for the back extension. If you are working in all the same yarn, then it is easier to follow the pattern. But if you have a specific stripe pattern going, you may get better results by dropping (but not breaking) the working yarn, attaching a new yarn in the middle to knit the back and forth back extension for ten ridges, breaking that new yarn, and then returning to your original yarn when you are back to working all the way across the rows.

09 April 2010

Sock Stunt Knitting

If you haven't seen it already, be sure to check out Brian's (HRM Prince Entrelac) 24 March post on the Skacel blog. Brian cast on last year (see the 30 June 2009 post) and knit an entire week's worth of socks -- seven pairs, fourteen socks -- all at the same time on a long circular needle. You can check the 17 July 2009 post to see how he did it, and what special equipment/contraptions he needed to make it happen. At the end of March, Brian finished the task. His final post on the matter includes very nice pictures of all the socks.

Brian was out here last year for STITCHES South but, alas, won't be out here this year. I guess we'll have to congratulate him in person another time. I feel strongly that a stunt knit of this magnitude deserves a trophy, medal, or ribbon. Or maybe someone should send him bronzed socks?

I must admit I almost sprang for one of those special 120-inch long needles, but I don't need it in the sock size so much as in a sweater size. Specifically, I'd like to knit a labyrinth sweater large enough for me to wear, but I fear I need a fifteen- or even twenty-foot needle to do it. Please note that Skacel carries needles in the metric sizes, but they are marked in the English system for sale in the United States. This means that you can get the in-between sock needle sizes if you like the quarter millimeter increments. The Whole Nine Yarns recently acquired a 2.25mm Addi Turbo in the 60-inch length at my request. I believe TWNY may be ordering 7mm needles/US size 10.75 soon at well. Most friendly local yarn shops are happy to order whatever you need as long as you don't mind waiting for the order to arrive. Review your future knitting queue and plot your needle acquisition strategy accordingly. Or do as I do, and just buy one of everything in the 60-inch length.