Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Small Stuff

I have not posted about any of my FO's (finished objects) since right around Christmas.  All of the FO's in this post were the "small stuff" that I made as samples for teaching in February and March.

In January, I made my first Colormatic (from the free pattern designed by Michelle Hunter) as a shop sample in less than two weeks.  Ann at Gosh Yarn It! takes the best photos.

© Gosh Yarn It!

I taught the one-session class on February 1, and I made my Colormatic 2 for my lovely daughter as a teaching-project-in-the-works. 
I have a difficult time with indoor photos after dark, but this one is actually better than others that I have attempted.

Each cowl was made with four different colored skeins of "Kenzie" (50% New Zealand merino, 25% nylon, 10% angora, 10% alpaca, 5% silk) from the HiKoo by Skacel Collection, Inc.  A lovely, beautifully balanced yarn, and very easy to work with.  The class was well attended and great fun!

And then there were socks!  I do love teaching from my own patterns.  In March, I taught a three-session class in making a basic toe-up sock from my TATU Try A Toe Up) patterns:  TATU Sock and Fingeringweight TATU Sock.  The class created a perfect opportunity for me to both start and finish a pair of socks for Mr K (whose 'Sad Socks' are still quite that).

The yarn that I used was Cascade Yarns Heritage 150 Paints (75% merino, 25% nylon).  The fantastic 492-yards allowed me to make the tallest socks ever(!)  I rolled the skein into two equal-weight balls, and I knit the sock cuffs until I thought that they should not be any taller.  You can see that there was a decent amount of unused yarn in the remaining two balls (How opposite is that from those sad socks?)

I also made a second child's sock.  This photo shows a blocked and unblocked sock.  The blocked one was a part of the pattern photography.  The unblocked one a class sample.

I had a total of three in-the-works socks as I taught the three classes which focused on (1) the toe cast-on, foot and gusset, (2) short rows, and completing the reinforced heel, (3) my favorite toe-up sock bind-off (the Kitchener Stitch Bind-Off) along with alternate bind-off possibilities.

The sock knitters were a smaller but very enthusiastic group!  I hope to offer a couple more classes before summer.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Midweek Meditation

“Just living is not enough," said the butterfly, "one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.”  
                         ~ Hans Christian Anderson, The Complete Fairy Tales

Hans Christian Andersen, born April 2 1805, was a Danish author and poet. "Although a prolific writer of plays, travelogues, novels, and poems, Andersen is best remembered for his fairy tales."    ~ Wikipedia: "Hans Christian Anderson", 04-02-14

Wikimedia Photo Credit: By Charlesjsharp (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Winter, Go Home!

Winter 2014 was the "worst winter ever" and then became the "winter that would not end".

I took this photo from my back window the week that I came home from my February trip to southern California.

Fortunately, those icicles are long gone.  This past Wednesday night, locally, our record low temperature for the date was broken by 2 degrees.  (Many records were broken this winter, but I took note of this one because now it is truly spring.  Right?)  The record low had been 15° F and now is 13° F.  I have decided to declare a win for Winter 2014:  You won.  You beat us in a record breaking way, and now it really is time for you to go back where you came from... OK?  Winter, go home.  Now!  Do not turn back!  The southern hemisphere might be your kind of place right now.

I know that spring is here because I saw two robins (together) in our yard last Saturday.  That felt lucky, because even though I usually see a single robin by the first week of march, I really do not remember ever seeing two (together) as my first robin sighting of the year.

Thursday morning, as I drank my coffee, the sun was shinning very brightly and I got caught up in watching a pair of smaller, I think, finches seriously engaged in nest-building in a tall pine tree through my front window.  I tried very hard to get a photo and I failed.

The robins and the finches reminded me of the hawk's nest at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, PA.  I remembered that eggs were laid in past March's, and I went to check it out...  I learned some very sad news at the "Hawkwatch at the Franklin Institute" blog.  But there was also news of reason for hope.  Let us all have hope for the Philadelphia Hawks.  I do.     

Later in the day, after lunch, my outdoor thermometer read 42° F, and that meant it was one of the warmest days of the week.  I went out to get my mail and newspaper with my camera in my pocket.

It was very windy.  I tried one last time to photograph the pine tree where I had observed a couple of steady hours of nesting activity.  No birds there.  I was cold.  It was windy.  (No birds.  No photos.)

Nearby, I checked out a flowerbed, which had a fantastic crocus bloom a couple of years ago, and then, I walked up to a daffodil bed on the other end of the property.  (No buds, no sprouts, no anything.  No photos.)

No luck at all.  Winter did his thing and he won and his photo is my only photo today.  But he is done.  I sent him home.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Paper Lanterns

I am very pleased to introduce you to a very happy little shawlette (that I designed, and) which I named "Paper Lanterns"...

© Blue Moon Fiber Arts

This is a very fun and fast knit!  And when knit with this most amazingly round and lofty, and smooth and drapey, and vibrantly colorful yarn called "Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock Mediumweight", you will love every minute of you knitting!  I have not yet ever enjoyed the "work" of sample knitting more!

More photos from Blue Moon Fiber Arts...

© Blue Moon Fiber Arts

© Blue Moon Fiber Arts

This pattern, released in January 2014, will be available only to Blue Moon Fiber Arts Rockin’ Sock Club members for one year.  It is still possible to become a 2014 club member, but only until the end of March.  The pattern will become available to everyone else in January 2015.

Happy knitting, and thanks for reading!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Really Rockin'

Rockin' Sock Club® Spoiler Alert--
This post includes some details about the January 2014 yarn club kit.

I really cannot wait any longer to start talking about my latest design!  I am very proud of this one.  It was one of those designs that happened effortlessly... like it was meant to be...

First, some background on the Blue Moon Fiber Arts Rockin' Sock Club®... This is a sock yarn club that is going strong in its 9th year.  I learned from a Blue Moon Fiber post (by Tina Newton who is the creative spirit that founded and runs BMFA) that the current membership number is in the thousands.  Members in the club receive six shipments each year which include one 405 yd skein of Socks that Rock® lightweight or mediumweight yarn in a unique club colorway, along with two patterns commissioned exclusively for the club.  In the early years of the club, only a sock pattern came with each kit.  Beginning a few years back, a second non-sock accessory pattern was also included.

I learned from a March 2011 Knitter's Review post by Clara Parkes, that, in that particular year, she was one of the designers along with Lucy Neatby, Cat Bordhi, Mary Scott Huff, and Stephanie Pearl-McPhee.

I learned from this October 2013 Call for Submissions thread in the Designer's Group Discussion Board on Ravelry that in 2014, for the very first time, Blue Moon Fiber Arts would be sourcing designs for their sock yarn club through an open call.  The submissions call for January included a link to this inspiration board.

"Designer Inspiration Board - January 2014 Sock Club Shipment
We're taking our inspiration from the Chinese Zodiac. 2014 is the year of the wooden horse. Since wood is about trees, it is also considered the year of the green horse. Which makes it the Year of the Green Wooden Horse.
  Lanterns. Wood. Green. Horse. New Year. Luck. Hope. Number 7."

Do you see that little bit of an image of paper lanterns all-in-a-row on the right?  It totally reminded me of "The Queen's Edging" from Babara G. Walker's A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns that I had been swatching.  And that, along with some recent design exploration in a sideways-knit shawlette, clicked in my mind... I quickly put a submissions proposal together.

Not so very long later... my design was selected as the RSC non-sock pattern for January!  This makes me one of the very first "open call" designers, and I am both proud and exceedingly humble to join the ranks of other RSC designers such as those named above!

I am sharing my design "spark" before the design itself.  Let's just say that I am putting my green-wooden-horse in front of my cart until the end of the spoiler period.  I am looking forward to next time (in just about a week) when I will introduce you to my "Paper Lanterns".  

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Best of the Rest

Photos from California.

Huntington Beach

Surf at Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach Pier

A Road Stop on the way to Oceanside

Venice  Beach

Sidewalk, Venice Beach

Venice Beach Skate Park

Grauman's Chinese Theatre, Hollywood

From the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

My Great Escape

Now, I could be wrong, or I could be right, but...

One thing that I got from the comments to my last post "The Lantern Festival" was that (though the pictures were enjoyable to look at) it was not necessarily perceived that I actually took them, in person, on Rodeo Drive, in Beverly Hills, California.

I really and truly was there!  On Sunday, February 9, 2014.

My footwear on February 12 (my last full day in CA) working by the pool...

My footwear at home on February 15...

The trip (obviously!) should have been much longer.  It was a working trip for Mr K.  I tagged along, but I also brought my work.  Our sightseeing, and my photos, were somewhat limited... most of it happened on that lovely Sunday.  I will share the best of the rest another time.

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Lantern Festival

Happy Valentine's Day!  Happy Lunar New Year!

February 14 is the 2014 date of the Chinese Lantern Festival which marks the end of the 15 day celebration of the Lunar New Year and the Chinese Year of the Horse.  The horse is part of a 12-year-cycle of animals that make up the Chinese zodiac. These interact with the five elements: wood, metal, fire, water, earth. This is the year of the wood horse, taking over from the year of the water snake.

Paper Lanterns on Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, CA

The lantern festival is held on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month. Some of the lanterns may be works of art, painted with birds, animals, flowers, zodiac signs, and scenes from legend and history. People hang glowing lanterns in temples, and carry lanterns to evening parades under the light of the full moon.

Paper Lanterns will soon make another appearance on this bog, but for now, a few more photos (from sunny CA)...

Monday, February 10, 2014

About Those Sleeves

I think that it is about time that I posted some details about the added sleeves on my Taiga #2.  I shared other modifications last spring as I taught a class at GYI! on colorwork and steeking.

[Warning to most readers: This post will be number heavy, project specific, and of no real interest, unless you wish to add sleeves to a similar non-sleeved sweater.]

[Reference to any non-knitters who read past the warning: st(s) is the standard knitting abbreviation for stitch(es).]

Pattern:  Taiga by Svetlana Volkova
Size:  Large
#6646 Salt Water, 8 skeins (480 yd) 
#6614 Cranberry Bog, 6 skeins (360 yd)

Unfortunately, it would be more than I wish to take on, to write pattern-like directions for all of the sizes.  What I can do is to describe (using my notes) what I did for my own size L project, with the hope that it might help other knitters.

1) Keeping in mind that I found the short ribbed cuffs on my size M shop sample Taiga #1 rather narrow, I picked up 3 extra stitches at the underarm (Ref: 35 sts were picked up from waste yarn, and 9 sts from underarm, for a total of 47 sts). I went with an odd number so that I could center the center stitch of the chart at the center of sleeve.

2) The size L uses the lower, 33 st wide, chart. To center the 33 st repeat (with 14 extra sts, Ref: 47-33=14) I drew a heavy pencil line on my chart after the 7th and 26th st. So for each of the initial colorwork rounds, after the underarm, I began: Slip marker, work sts 27 to 33 of chart, then sts 1 to 33, then sts 1 to 7.

3) I worked 17 rounds even. I decreased a stitch at beginning and end of charted rounds 18, 22, and 28. (I moved my pencil lines out accordingly.)  I did not come up with these rounds in any regular way. Truthfully, I had to knit the first sleeve twice (it came out too short and a bit narrow the first time), and I did not want to rip out more of the colorwork than I had to, so these decreases were not evenly spaced.

4) After round 28, I calculated (using desired length, row gauge, and what I learned by trial and error) that I should decrease every 6th round six more times. I had a total of 9 decreases, going from 47 to 29 sts. 

5) Finally, I worked two more rows, decreasing (k2tog) five times on the last row for 24 sts. I changed to my smaller size needle and worked 12 rows in 1 x 1 rib. I switched color for the bind-off.

6) Important advice:  Try the sweater on as you go, work one sleeve at a time, and write down enough notes on what you actually do on the first sleeve in order to make the second sleeve the same.

All that remains to finish this sweater is to sew in the zipper.

It is pinned in now, but I have very recently come across two interesting and very different (from each other) blog posts about sewing zippers into hand knits.  I plan to review them to decide if they could improve my zipper insertion, and will post here once I am done.