Obsession: Cooler Weather

Image courtesy McKinney Texas Daily Photo Blog

It’s been a long, hot summer where I live. It started early, and it has been relentlessly hot and sunny since May.

Now, I do like summer very much. I love light cotton skirts, and ice cream, and feeling the warmth of the sun on my face. I love iced coffee, and the beach, and being able to take the dog out for a walk without four layers of protective clothing.

But if truth be told, summer is not my favorite season.

I’m a Fall girl; an Autumn girl. I love cool, sunny days; I love listening to the leaves crunch under my feet as I walk. I love dark rainy nights.

Why? Because I’m a knitter, of course! Cool sunny days are ideal for wearing woollies; dark rainy nights are ideal for staying at home and knitting.

And I love that first snow – because it gives me an opportunity to wear my favorite hat.

I’m a cheap date.

i kees you, new beloved spindle.

I’m also a gear ho. So it wasn’t surprising that, when I recently visited the Chelsea, MI-area spinning guild — The Spinner’s Flock — that I’d be trolling the tables of fiber and goodies for sale to see if anything was there that I couldn’t live without.

There is a lot of wool. Beautiful 9-month-preganant-belly-sized balls of woolly roving, elegant braids of hand-dyed merino/tencel [from my friend, Carla, which is why I remember the URL], and lots of equipment. Obviously the wool stayed put.

On a second pass through the hall, the spindle shown above caught my eye. Ooh, pretty colors! But more interestingly, the top of the shaft doesn’t have a hook — it has an integrated pigtail. I thought it was neat. I gave it the spin-in-the-palm-of-my-hand test [which means nothing likely, but it seemed zippy], and since it was a whopping $14, I bought it.

I took my new prize back to the circle of friends I was spinning with, and attacked my silk roving, expecting nothing much. Within minutes, I realized this thing was a gem. A keeper. Possibly my favorite spindle. And by this time, the vendor had packed up and gone home. I hadn’t taken a business card. No, really — this IS now my favorite spindle. [I have going on 20 spindles, and they all cost more than this one. Oh, the irony!] Light, spins like a full-on dervish [double rainbow!], and the pigtail is sheer genius.

MUST. HAVE. ANOTHER.

Can anyone help me find my holy grail?

look how it makes the pretty with the tussah silk.

love the aqua. if my soul had a color, it would be aqua.

looks heavy, but it's actually very light.

WWW: Big gestures, big knits & big stars

For a good cause!

The Knitting Noras, a group in Bolton, England, has announced a follow up project to their successful 2010 Naked Knitters calendar: postcards.  The calendar project raised £5,600 for Christie’s Hospital Cancer treatment unit.

The postcards feature bonus pictures from the original photoshoot, and are being sold online, for £1 each, £4.50 for a set of 5 and £9 for a set of 10.  There’s equal opportunity sauciness – ladies and gentlemen, knitting and crochet.  Something for everyone!

Proceeds raised will go to After Adoption, a charity group in the UK that provides support and assistance for people affected by adoption.

The cards will also be available at the Manchester Stitch and Creative Craft Show  3 to 5 September and at the I Knit Weekender in London 10 & 11 September, and at events in the Bolton area throughout the autumn.


And on the other side of the pond, Knots of Love has announced that as of earlier this month they have donated over 58,000 knitted and crocheted caps to to chemo patients and others facing life-threatening illnesses and injuries.


Lovely.

Lantern Moon announces a new line of knitting needles, the world’s first wooden needles made from Forest Stewardship Council certified and sustainably harvested trees.  And they’re beautiful!

They will be available in September.


Jared Flood has posted stunning photo essay of his visit to the Shetland Islands. First part, second part.


Julia Roberts has a knitting and sewing room!


Not a new one, but still worth six minutes of your time: Artist Rachel John indulges in some of her trademark Extreme Knitting – this time, 1000 strands of yarn at once.


Getting gauge might be tricky...

On the topic of big knitting, the ultimate scarf and quick knit, shown in the fall 2010 collection of Maison Martin Margiela. Remarkable website design, too.

This is all part of a revival of Aran knits seen this season on the runways… more about it in this Irish Times article.

On a related note, there will be a talk on Wool Craft & Traditional Clothing on an Aran Island, August 28th at the Galway City Museum, Galway, Ireland, as part of the Galway Heritage Week.

Keeping Track with Tags

Another excuse to go to the office supply store.

Sometimes it’s the little things that save your sanity in knitting.

The humble hang tag has come to my rescue many times.

I’m a process knitter. Which is a nice way of saying I love to knit but it take me a while to finish projects. I might have a dozen or so projects and swatches for future projects going at once.

I’ve tried keeping track of it all with sticky notes, with notebooks, with computer programs, for me, none of that works because they are all separate from the knitted piece.

When I start a project or swatch I attach a hang tag after a few rows of knitting. I note the pattern name, yarn, needle size, etc on one side for a project that’s pattern based. I note the stitch pattern, book name and page number and needle sizes for a swatch project.

My knitting brain on a string.

On the reverse of the tag for either type of project I keep track of the row I’ve just finished when I stop knitting.  I add additional tags as I need them.

When I go back to a project after a month (or more) all of my information is there waiting for me.

Attention non-woolly sock knitters!

The day has arrived. Sock Candy, the non-woolly version of Blue Moon’s Socks That Rock, has returned in beautiful hand-painted glory! Says Tina, “We are offering our Sock Candy for a very limited time as a hand paint. It is not our intention to continue to hand paint this yarn. Instead we’re venturing into having it mill dyed in multicolors.”

One last chance to grab the most beautiful hand-painted cotton sock yarn ever!

Sock Candy, hand-painted by Tina. YUM.


[Yup, Singer was made for me. Literally. How flattering, and irresistible, is that? No worries, I placed my order before I posted this. Because I know what you knitters are like. Because I’m one of you. :)]

WWW: Squids & Bridges

Congrats to the winners of our most recent contest, chosen by Shannon Okey herself:

Big winner [prize: a copy of The Knitgrrl Guide to Professional Knitwear Design, plus the choice between one of her online classes OR an one-one consultation with the pro herself]
Allison
August 4, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Cracked Shannon up by mentioning zombie apocalypse winner [prize: a copy of The Knitgrrl Guide to Professional Knitwear Design, plus one online class]
Susan
August 4, 2010 at 4:55 pm

Mentioned tweets about this contest winner [prize: a copy of The Knitgrrl Guide to Professional Knitwear Design, plus one online class]
Rachel Erin
August 4, 2010 at 2:21 pm

Winners, watch your e-mail for a message from contest queen, Jillian!


You'd get more knitting done with all those tentacles...

Stitch London and the London Natural History Museum invite you to join them on August 27th to Stitch-a-Squid.  This event is part of their Deep Sea exhibition, celebrating all the weird and wonderful creatures that live in the depths of the oceans.

Six knitted specimens have already been found in and around the exhibitions…


Biggest yarn-bomb ever?

Sue Sturdy is leading an initiative in southwestern Ontario to complete the KNIT CamBRIDGE project.  The objective is to cover Cambridge’s Main Street Bridge entirely in knitting, as a collaborative large scale piece of outdoor public art, to raise the profile of knitting in a region of Ontario that used to be a home to many spinning mills.  Over 1000 knitters have already contributed to the project, and about half the bridge cosy is complete.  It will be installed starting September 9th for it unveiling on September 11th.  The piece will remain in place until September 26th, when it will be taken apart, washed and remade into blankets and scarves. Many pieces will be distributed to social services agencies, including shelters for the homeless, and other pieces will be auctioned off with proceeds also being distributed to charity and the Cambridge Arts agency, which is supporting the project.

Knitters from the Cambridge area and all over the world have already participated, and knitters are encouraged to get involved in these last few weeks.  Even a small 8 inch wide strip will help! More info here and details on how to contribute here.

Visitors to the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitter’s Fair that weekend should take a detour to see it.


If you love lace...

Interweave Knits has announced a new edition of the beloved Knitted Lace of Estonia, by Nancy Bush, to be published in September. This edition includes a bonus 1 hour DVD with videos and bonus material on the traditions, the patterns and the various techniques used in the book’s designs, as well as instructions on designing your own Estonian style lace shawl. Nupps lessons straight from the master herself!


Rest a while and knit.

Popular yarn shop Loops is opening a second location in Tulsa, OK. The shop was designed in collaboration with Interior Design students from Oklahoma State University, and is a bright, open and welcoming space for crafters and their families. A “man cave” provides a corner for ‘muggles‘ to read magazines, play hand-held video games, and rest while their crafting companions shop, and a playroom keeps the kids busy.  There’s a classroom, and a “yarn bar” where visitors can hang out, surf the web for patterns and idea, or even just knit or crochet.

A Grand Opening celebration takes place the weekend of August 27-29, featuring workshops, giveaways, and live alpacas in the parking lot.


Shannon Okey’s Cooperative Press announces two new books coming this fall: Hunter Hammersen’s Silk Road Socks, and “literary knitting romp” What Would Madame Defarge Knit?, edited by Heather Ordover of the popular knitting and books podcast CraftLit.


Milwaukee’s Stitch & Pitch Night gets some love from ESPN.


Sheep take over a Hobbit village in New Zealand.

5 Tips for a Dye Day

Pile of fiber

Two or three times a year, my fiber gang gets together for a dye day.  Here are 5 tips from our group to yours to keep your dye party running smoothly.

1) Plan and work ahead and after.

Know how many people are coming and what’s for lunch. Mix your dyes ahead of time and soak your fiber the night before. Plan on rising and drying your fiber at home. Just dye and play on dye day.

2) Time and space for all.

No one wants to wait on dye day. Have spots for everyone to work their color magic and enough pots, crock dyers, burners, etc to set the fibers.

3) Have some color ideas, but let it flow.

I usually come with three or four colorways to get started, but inevitably the best colors are those that hit me on the spot. Have a notebook handy to keep track of your colorways. Trust me, you won’t remember.

4) Slow down, you’re having fun.

It’s not a race, it’s not your job. If you work at frenetic pace you won’t enjoy yourself. Bring your wheel or your knitting and take breaks. I’ve learned my actual limits are about half of my dyeing aspirations – so I soak only half of the fiber I think I can get done, and bring dry fiber along. Sometimes I add more fiber to the soaking bucket, but usually not.

5) Try something new.

If you usually pour your dyes, try painting. If you usually steam set, try crock pot dyeing. Challenge yourself to break out of your color rut. You’ll be amazed at how much fun you have just playing.

1.75 lbs of fiber dyed in 5 hours. Next time, not so much purple.

Knitting quickie

Something I realized while frogging [to fix the extra repeat of the lace pattern I somehow decided was necessary to insert between vertical columns — aka a real mess] last night…

[Knowing that I almost always choose simple lace with a purl- or knit-back row will help this next  part make more sense.]

When it comes to frogging lace off the needles, which I often do with simple lace, I always frog with the wrong side facing me. This means I’m undoing decreases and increases that I’ve just done, and for some reason, it’s easier for me to keep things tidy and not drop stitches or former yarn overs. It also means that many stitches will get mounted on the needles incorrectly, but that’s super-easy to fix on the next row, which is that right-side row again, now being reknit properly.

Pictures? We don’t need no stinking pictures. We’re knitters.

[Okay, I went looking for pictures, and instead found validation: Pam Allen says the same thing. See point 3.]

Knitting from Knitty

I don’t choose what to publish based on what I want to knit [especially since I have stupidly annoying restrictions in my knitting due to my wool allergy]. But lately, I have found two Knitty patterns that were just up my alley for right-now knitting:

Annette, knit here in Knit One Crochet Two Babyboo

First to cast on, Annette. Cute, quick to knit, because it’s lacy and it’s not a huge body-coverer. I chose to go a different route, yarnwise, pulling some gorgeous Hempathy from my stash [bought at my LYS, The Purple Purl] in the most amazing deep dark purple (color #12). I’m almost at the 2nd buttonhole [it starts at the hem] and it’s an easy, almost mindless knit. It also uses a surprisingly small amount of yarn, even for a big girl size.

Then, as a result of my spontaneous trip to Ann Arbor, I found myself within reach of Knit A-Round, so Jillian and I went this morning. I came home with this, irresistible when found in colors I never knit [but love] and also half off.

Araucania Lonco Multy, in color 4009 this time.

I recently used this yarn in a different colorway for Annis. It’s for Coquille, of course. I can’t get the colors right in this pic [it was too hot to fiddle with white balance outdoors], but it’s mostly deep yellowy-greens, chocolate and super bright orange. Not exactly like, but a little reminiscent of, the colorway in Knitty. This is to be saved for vacation knitting when I go on the London, Bath, Wales trip this October. I want to finish Annette now.

Obsessed with linen

layers of breathable wrinkles. be still my heart.

I hate hot, and I don’t do summer well. But about 3 or 4 years ago, Jillian took me to Acme Mercantile before a speaking engagement at the Ann Arbor Public Library, and she introduced me to my new summer love. Flax Designs.

Brenda Dayne, goddess of the Cast-On Podcast, tried to do the same thing with me, calling the style Lagenlook [the German word for “layered look”]. But I kept finding pages like this and never quite got the fever for it that she had.

That’s because I had been looking in the wrong place. Flax Designs are also Lagenlook, but pared down. It’s about layers of linen, sometimes in bold colors, sometimes soft and almost vintagey, like the picture at left.

There are styles upon styles, and years of different cuts and shapes to find for sale online [eBay is great for Flax].

What I love, more than just being able to put on easy, breathable shapes for summer is that the sizing is very friendly, to all body shapes. It starts S, M, L and then moves to 1G [g = generous], 2G and 3G.

Jillian and I stopped into Acme today and they’d just marked down their summer stock. I scored a white tank, my favorite pants [the Floods style] in screaming turquoise and a round-necked jacket in a rich, vibrant peony for layering when the temperature starts to finally go down. Here…take a peek at the crazy-fabulous summer Bold color palette for 2010 [thanks to TenderTreasures.com for the great photo — also a great place to find Flax]:

Like softer colors? There are tons of those. I dare you not to google.