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Sales Consultant and Trainer with great results and 30 years experience.  Very effective.  A little eccentric. Usually happy. Visit the Sales Dynamo website!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Hope for the Two-Color Brioche

It's a rare vacation week in Karma land, and I'm happy to report that the knitting is getting a little honeymoon.  No sandy beaches or candlelit dinners, but lots of devoted one on one time.  I'm knitting at least an hour every day, usually more.  The stash is getting sorted, the queue is getting organized, and they after-holiday yarn sales are being investigated.  The knitting friends are getting face time for the first time in weeks. And I've been entering fiber articles to the Fast Fiber Facts at a rate of about one every two days.  Woo hoo!

The most exciting part of my knitting honeymoon is that today I am lunching with a knitting friend capable of the magical witchcraft called two-color brioche stitch.  I am hoping to exact a promise from her to teach me this wondrous craft, as I have chosen two patterns and purchased the yarns to complete them.  I just lack the skill.  (I hope you can stand the sucking up!  I think she reads the blog pretty regularly and I'm hoping she'll take pity on me.)

In the Karma column, my life task of learning patience and spreading peace is getting tested several times a day lately.  The dog has gotten off leash three times in the last week, resulting in an unexpected tour of the neighborhood for me while I collect him.  The "service" part of my day job has lately consisted of telling people why they won't be getting their money back.  And my teen children think that just because they're on vacation from school they should be on vacation from all responsible behavior.  (Um, no.)  Staying calm and effective is harder than usual.  But inch by inch, row by row, knitting reminds me that the surrounding emotions come and go - the work remains.  If I do the work properly, I will have created something.  Soon it might be something in a reversible two-color brioche stitch!  For today, a well sorted stash and progress on a pair of socks.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Mittens for the Mister

Things are at a standstill with the two color brioche stitch.  I'm not getting anywhere with the written directions, and I haven't yet found a friend who has experience in this to teach me one on one.

In the meantime, the Mr. really would like a pair of extra-warm mittens.  I shopped a little today, and succeeded in collecting what I believe will be ideal mitten materials.  The Mr. seems to have had a minor case of frostbite a few years ago, and now winter is very painful on his fingers.  I collected a Tahki Yarns Sedona hand dyed in a clear cool grey, and a really soft and lofty AslanTrends Bariloche kettle dyed.  Both are a heavy worsted, and I plan to knit them up of 6s or 7s to make a very wind-resistant, warm and lofty mitten which will also shed water if the Mr. uses them to shovel or make snow balls.  The AslanTrends has polyamid in it, making it a stable choice for wet work.  The Tahki is all merino which might grow a little if it weren't knit in a fair isle or blended colorwork pattern with something like the Tahki.

I'm looking at a variety of patterns from the Robin Hansen book, Favorite Mittens. I haven't chosen, but it will keep my fingers busy until I can talk to a few more knitting friends and get two-color brioche lessons. 

Another back-burner project which may finally get some attention is making me another pair of socks.  Since I fell in love with the Schaeffer Nichole sock yarn, I haven't made myself a pair of socks, though I've made two other pair that I have gifted.  I cast them on today, and will probably use them as my travelling project. (Waiting for appointments, killing time while travelling, etc.)

Between these, my monthly washcloth pattern, and designing an Andean Mountain hat for my youngest, my knitting future looks very busy.  Just yesterday I was all caught up!  It's my Karmic task to have perpetual knitting tasks.  Where else would I work to combine creativity, patience, and a willingness to trust directions blindly?  Bring it on!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Karma

Christmas at the Marino home was a delight. The kids received electronics, concert tickets, magazines, and pajamas.  Cookies were eaten, champagne was toasted, and then it was over...  As an avid knitter, of course I hoped for knitting gifts this year.  And the kids came through!  No coffee mugs, no candles, no DVDs - knitting books! And the Mr. came through with a Kindle!  So cool.

The first book is 60 Quick Knits, published by the makers of Cascade Yarns. Every pattern features Cascade 220 worsted wool.  There are hats, scarves and mittens in snazzy color combos and updated versions of traditional designs.  Since 220 is a worsted weight yarn, everything knits up quickly.  I've made mittens from this book, and know a couple of people who own and love the book already.  I'll have to wait a little, though, as it's still on order. :(

Second is Punk Knits by Sharon Ross.  The author is a punk music artist herself, and views creating her own garments as a way to side step the establishment and make her own statement.  That's fine with me!  There are 26 projects in the book with edgy details and a ton of attitude. I always tell the kids to tell me what they'd like me to make and I'll be happy to make it.  I'm sure it won't be long until the kids are placing requests for these punk knits.

Alli, my youngest, has recently taken a serious interest in what I knit.  She doesn't knit herself, but this morning she was poring over pattern books and suggesting color combinations and traditional motifs for an ear flap hat she wants.  She does this kind of designing in her head, leaving me to find the right yarns and generate the patterns.  Who knows?  Maybe we have another great knitwear designer in the making.  I'll be happy to be her sample maker!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Gaffs of Christmas Past

Every year my family celebrates Christmas on Christmas Eve.  My dear friend Lisa (special ed kindergarten teacher) comes in from out of town, I make a huge meal, and we dine in candlelight in the evening.  Part of the daytime tradition is to deliver trays of handmade holiday cookies to friends and family.  It all starts with me getting up very early in the morning to bake bread, pie, etc.  In '08 I had more to do than that.

I had knit a pair of fingerless gloves with mitten caps for my youngest, and somehow never got round to blocking the 2nd one.  I blocked it 2 days before and it was still wet.  I had made sterling silver earrings for my eldest, and they needed polishing.  I hadn't finished decorating.  My house guests were sick, and one a diabetic vegan which made for a complicated time playing Florence Nightingale.  And of course there was the cooking.

I threw pie in the oven around 7am, and moved on to polishing the earrings.  The first one went great.  The second one disintegrated in my hand.  7:30am.  I'd think of something. Oh! Mittens!  Darn.  Still wet. Gift exchange around 2pm.  Dammit.

I checked on the pie.  Fine.  I washed up from the baking trying to figure out what to do.  Apologize to eldest and make another one soon. Ok.  7:45.  Take soggy mitten and put in toaster oven at 150 degrees for ten minutes.  Maybe it will dry faster.

I went to get the candle lanterns out of the basement and decorate with those so we would have light for our candlelit evening. 8:00.  The pie beeped, so I grabbed that, and went back to the lanterns, one of which I promptly dropped and smashed.  In my bare feet I put the dog out, and cleaned up the broken glass.  I checked the mitten.  Now it was a hot wet mitten.  Damn again.  I turned up the toaster oven.  Just a little.  Let the dog in. 8:45.

On to making breakfast for the sick house guest, and starting a vegan holiday meal as well as the turkey dinner.  I was stuffing acorn squash for the vegans and turkey for the rest.  I chopped, I sauteed, and then I smelled it.  THE MITTEN!  I ran over to the toaster oven.  9:40.

Wool doesn't burn in the traditional sense.  It just smells awful and disintegrates.  It still looked like a mitten (though a little brown) but when I went to pick it up it just crumbled. Damn, damn, DAMN!

Stuffing almost finished.  Gravy started.  Squash roasted for soup. 10:45. Vegan Lisa comes into kitchen and asks about the "Weird" smell.  "Turkey's supposed to smell like that!"  I snapped.  She's a vegan - she'll buy that, right?  'Cause burned wool smells so "holiday".

I was frazzled, and decided to go drop off cookies to my LYS.  "Lisa, I have to get out of here for about 20 minutes.  Help me out; keep the husband out of the pie, the kids out of the presents, and the dog out of the stuffing.  I'll be right back in a much calmer mood!" I grabbed a platter of cookies and left for the shop.

"This is all you brought?" MaryAnn (LYS owner) was teasing.  I explained my crazy failure of a morning, and sat for a minute gulping coffee.  She chuckled, wished me well, and I went home.

When I got to my back door Lisa and my dog were waiting and they both looked sorry. Aw, crap.

"What happened?"

"The dog ate the stuffing."

"All of it?  Vegan and regular?"

Yup.  This woman can handle 20 special ed 5 year olds for 6 hours per day, but not my family and dog.  I called my mother in desperate futile hope of recovering my day.

"Haven't you started drinking yet?"

"It's 11:15 in the morning!"

"Not in Australia.  Things will look much more festive after your second glass of wine. Go for it!"

I took my wine and retreated for the tub.  And she was right.  Things were looking up.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Giving The Girlfriend Socks

This is a close-up of the heel flap reduction on the Girlfriend Socks.  The specific reduction technique is easy, and I really like the look.  It makes a neat line with no holes where the fabric changes direction and tension.  (The pattern is in the Knit Simple Knitting Workshop booklet.) The Girlfriend received hers today, and seemed pleased.  This photo has the colors pretty well down, which is half the fun of these socks, in my opinion.

They're roll-top socks, and have a slip-stitch heel for durability.  The kitchener stitched toes, once the scourge of my existence, were achieved through obsessive You Tube video lessons.  The yarn is the lovely Schaeffer Nichole, and the  needle size is US 2.5.

On the Brioche stitch project I cannot claim as much success.  I have done well with the one color brioche swatch.  I then cast on my reversible scarf project.  I'm having a little trouble fully understanding what I am to do for the set up row and for row 1.  The designer may have written it perfectly and I am overthinking it, or she may have given sparse instructions where I need the gaps filled in.  I'll be trying again tonight, and I'll let you know!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Brioche Experiments

I tried to relearn brioche stitch yesterday.  This photo represents my attempt, unblocked, mistakes and all. It was a hand made light worsted weight yarn, knit on 7s, then 5s.

I decided to start with a one yarn brioche swatch to get my brain around how brioche works. (The pattern I'm working towards is in two yarns.)  My knitting paranoia immediately kicked in.  I knit a few rows, didn't see what I expected to see, and ripped back and started again.  I did this three times.  I was getting nowhere, fast. 

I still  didn't trust it, and made some mistakes, but I didn't rip again. Then I got engaged in a conversation, and voila, it was fine! (Funny that I always do better when I stop thinking.) When I looked down at the work, I liked it.  Then I decided to try it on 5s.  A few more mistakes happened ( I didn't say made them **looking around suspiciously**) but I liked it better a little tighter.

Now that I get the concept, on to two color.  Then on to the scarf.  Then the vest.  It's a lot of prep for one little vest, but I'm so excited to put a new skill in my toolbox I don't care!  I hope if you don't do brioche stitch yet you'll try it.  Use this link to a YouTube video tutorial.  A written plan can be found in Vogue Stitchionary One, and The Encyclopedia of Knitting. Try it!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Camelids, free pattern

First things first - the Girlfriend Socks are done!  They are photographed, but I won't post the pics until the intended recipient has them in hand.  (I don't want to ruin the surprise!) I'll miss using the Shaeffer Nichole sock yarn, as it is a pleasure in color, texture, and fabric.  But I'm moving on.

Right now I'm having a romance with camelid products - alpaca, camel, guanaco, llama, suri, and the other fibers from the camel family.  They come in light and heavy, long staple and short staple, breathable, wicking, stain resistant, and more. For folks like me with a wool allergy, they are a huge relief.  They allow us to knit soft snuggley things without itchy hands!

This is exciting for me because I'm about to launch into an alpaca project for me.  I don't knit for myself very often (it's very hard to fit me in!) and have chosen a brioche stitch vest.  Since I haven't done brioche stitch since I learned it 20 years ago, this is a bit of an undertaking.  I've chosen to precede it with a brioche stitch scarf to even out my stitch and tension before I launch into my vest. The pattern can be found here.  I haven't cast on yet, and have a nutso day today, but I'm hoping to get into it tomorrow.  I'd love company if anyone is in the mood for a knit-along!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thank You, Makers of Lysol

My dear friend Colleen has been sick for the last week or so.  Though she's mostly miserable, she is "getting a lot of knitting done."  Really?  While I applauded her incentive to make the most of her down time, I couldn't help remembering the blankets donated to the native Americans by the pilgrims.  You remember - the ones contaminated with Scarlett Fever?

Well, of course I was too hasty in my teasing of my friend.  As it turns out, I have had pneumonia for a couple of weeks now, and have NO intention of ripping out all the gift knitting I've done on that time.  Christmas will not give me more time just because I'm ill.  (Dammit.)

I have come up with an awkward but effective solution.  I can saturate my knits in LYSOL!  And it imparts a somewhat seasonal pine-y smell, too.  It kills everything, right? 

Another recommendation I've received is to just give the gifts as they are, and use the excuse that I'm a little muddled on cold meds.

From yet another friend, "Give these things to people you really don't like, and then they can get really sick."  This was followed by an evil grin...  Somewhat tempting, but leaving me giftless for the original intended recipients.

I'm going with the Lysol.  Now that I'm on the antibiotics, I'm no longer contagious.  If I decontaminate the knitting, we're gold.  I think.  Gosh, I hope so.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Free Acorn Ornament Pattern

Click here for an adorable pattern by Carmen Rigby-Wilson.  This is an acorn ornament, andit can be made in about an hour.  Make a group of them as a quick display for fall and winter while still celebrating your crafty side.  The photo comes courtesy of Ravelry.  Make 'em and love 'em!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Wine With Knitting

I enjoy a glass of wine.  Sometimes two.  And often I enjoy that glass of wine while knitting.  Experts indicate that reds tend to go with red meats and heavy spicing, and whites go with chicken, fish, and mild spicing.  Champagne goes with dessert.  Do different wines go with different knitting?

I would have to say yes, they do.  Whites are served cold, and I think they go well with colorful projects, particularly of a summery nature.  (Chablis and Riesling come to mind.)  If I'm knitting in the summer with white wine, it needs to be a really easy project, though, as I tend to drink the cold wine quickly when it's warm outside.  Not a good combination for intricate stitch work.

Light, bright whites are lower in alcohol, and are fabulous for working a new stitch pattern.  (Beaujolais and Pinots.) It still feels like you're relaxing with a glass of wine, but you can think straight, and the bright flavor notes are a nice punctuation to the learning experience.  I find many children's projects work in this category.

Moderate reds like Merlots are my go-to knitting wines.  I like to plop down while dinner is on the stove and have a sip or three and get a few rows done, whetting the appetite for the evening's knitting to come.  I usually have wine left in the glass after dinner, and that works out nicely.  I'll crank out socks or garments or washcloths while finishing the glass.

Big Fat reds (high alcohol Bordeaux and Chianti types) are excellent for ripping back rows to correct a mistake, but not so good for the actual correction.  The corrections may require coffee if you need to get on with it right away!

Let's face it, champagne is just fun.  If you haven't cracked a bottle of sparkling wine in a while, try it the next time you're finished with a project and you're blocking it.  Everyone needs something to celebrate, and finishing your labor of love is a great thing to make a festive occasion.  No one to share with?  Save the leftovers for sauces and sauteing.  Hate that idea?  Invite your knitting friends to come and join you!  (I'm pretty sure I'm free that day!)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Peace

A blogger I read found herself wondering why she is knitting herself mittens since she hates mittens and lives in the southern US.  I understand the question was rhetorical.  I don't understand questioning knitting motives.  Even so, I was grateful to spend a moment thinking about why knit.

Knitting transports us to a place where errors can be fixed and will never show, to places where effort yields beauty, where "when I'm finished with my row" is a reasonable measure of time.  I love that place.  That's enough for me.

I've been having some serious stress in my life lately, and knitting is a refuge.  Every knitting project makes me a better knitter, and eats away at myriad life stressors.  I think I would knit picture frame cozies (or doggie chew toys) if those were the only knitting option left to me. 

I have no babies, but make occassional baby things.  Not even as gifts.  I've made a couple and later sold them at the LYS just because I had the urge to make baby things.  I've made useless (but adorable) miniatures, single mittens while writing patterns, and sweaters for decidedly unchilly stuffed animals (not for kids, my own). 

I knit because I'm a knitter.  Anybody need a knitted iPod case?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Spa Gifts - Free Pattern

I'm giving this gift myself. Washcloths and face cloths seem to have gone the way of rotary phones.  Yet very little is as good for the skin as simple friction with a gentle organic soap.  All the chemical cleansers and exfoliants are great money makers for cosmetic companies, but at most high end spas you'll find simple cleansing and moisturizing as the treatments of choice.  (Think clay masks and cucumber eye treatments.)

If you're looking for a quick last minute gift, try beautiful washcloths and artisan soaps.  Two handmade cloths wrapping some fine handmilled soaps and tied with a ribbon would make a lovely gift for anyone on your list.  (Modern men are into skin care, too.) Add a candle or two, and it's a spa experience you can even tuck into a stocking!

Use some organic cotton or bamboo fibers, and these cloths will gently exfoliate skin.  Choose a boutique artisan soap that fits your friend's personality: chocolate, olive oil, lavender, and oatmeal are all popular handmilled soap types.  (If you're in the Buffalo NY area, stop in to Village Artisans on Main Street in Williamsville for a lovely selection of soaps and candles.)  Or coordinate soap and candle colors to the yarn colors used for a pretty visual. Need something more substantial?  Add a pedicure brush or a facial brush, bubble bath, and a natural moisturizer.  Enjoy! 

Socks and Cookies

I have learned that my tiny-footed friend reads this blog.  This means no pictures of the socks, because though she knows what her gift is, at least she doesn't know what it looks like.  Yet.

On cookie news, 5 more dozen today after 13 dozen on Sunday.  I am a flour-coated elf with dishpan hands.  Dishpan hands snag yarn, but it's for a good cause, and I will persevere.  Soon the cookies will be done and I can devote my full free time to my knitting once again.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Cookie Time

I've ripped the girlfriend socks back to the problem area, and have made over an inch of forward progress.  Now it's time to bake Christmas cookies, and I can work on the socks in the down time between putting the batch in the oven and pulling them out.  This will be the first time I've combined these two activities.  I will consider it a success if the knitting stays out of the oven, and the cookie dough stays off the knitting.  (As some of you know, the knitting has gone into the oven before, with disastrous results!)  I will post a photo of some of the cookies and the sock progress over this weekend.  I'll also update whether I recommend this combined activity.  Have a great Saturday!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Free Pattern for a Boy Sweater

This is an adorable sweater for the man/boy in your life.  You can make it in any kind of colorway, and as it is knit in blocks, you could add any or subtract any colors you want. 

Make it in a solid and it could go to most offices.  Make it in two contrasting tones, and it celebrates the weekend.  Make it in the Mr.'s favorite team colors (Red and Blue for the Buffalo Bills) and it's a multipurpose garment.  (Warmth and spirit in a handmade.  Woo Hoo!)

Make it in a cashemere blend, and it's a luxury he'll never forget.  Make it in baby alpaca, and it's warm enough for outerwear, even here in the Buffalo area. 

Have fun with it.  Take pictures.  I'd love to see them!

Tiny-footed Sock Model

Well, I found her!  A model with a tiny foot tried on my "girlfriend sock", and the verdict was negative.  The sock, though adorable, is too tight.  The modifications to the pattern have created an attractive but useless garment. Damn.  And so close to Christmas.  I still have to make two of them, and get them out to said girlfriend before the big day.  I guess this is where I pull up my big girl panties and frog my brains out.

It's painful, though. I was really happy to finally have gotten what was in my head into the sock, and now I have to go back to a standard pattern so that I can get them both done.  All the other knitting projects need to wait patiently, but right now I can hear them calling me with vigor.

Patience seems to be my eternal karmic task to learn and possess.  So far I suck at it.  After the temper tantrum I'm about to have, I'll make some dinner, and settle in to ripping out this sock.  I hope all of your knitting is going much more successfully.  :)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sock Stress

Last night I finished sock one of the Girlfriend Socks (aka surprisingly tiny feet), and have some serious doubts.  The pattern is a huge modification to a pattern I already had.  Looking at the finished sock, the proportions look very odd.  The sole is slip-stitched to add a little cushioning, and the top is ribbed.  Both of those things contract the work.  But my finished sock looks like it would fit a Wii remote much better than a human foot.  The circumference is tiny!  I can expand it with my hand, but wonder if it will be too tight.  I can't try it on, because there is no way my size 9.5 feet will fit in the "tiny feet" sock. 

I've looked up a couple of shoe size/sock measurement conversion charts, and it's not consistent.  I'm either right on the money or off by about an inch in functional circumference.  I'd really like to know for sure so I can either rip this one back or start sock two. What is a knitting maven to do?  I'll let you know as soon as I do.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Inspiration

I went out to a diner for breakfast the other day.  It was close to a SUNY Buffalo campus well known for its high percentage of foreign students.  I liked people watching, and the international and multicultural scene playing out over coffee and eggs. 

I noticed was that most couples and groups were of mixed nationalities, and each kid was dressed in a unique way. There were sweats of various vintages and styles, and occassionally absurd numbers of layers, but mostly real individuality.  Why don't adults dress this way?

One Asian girl had a sweater that looked handmade, and it was a long-sleeved crew-necked sweater with built-in mittens!  The sleeves had sock style ends, with a hole for your hand to poke out for practical things, and poke back in for the cold.  The colorwork was at unlikely angles in random sizes.  Cute as heck.

A guy with a Slavic accent had one of the widest knitted scarves I've ever seen on a man, in a mix of very deep and vivid greens.  It was very long, and wrapped several times, and worn over a gorgeous grey sweater with deeply carved cables.  It was probably the warmest looking combo I saw.

Maybe the most fun were the knitted hats.  There were Andean caps with earflaps and tassels, slouchy tams, watch caps, stocking caps and newsboys.  There were stripes, solids, cables, lace, pom poms, tassels, and appliques.  There were skull and crossbones, flowers, and nordic designs.  The colors were fabulous.  More was more, and the effect was cool and unique. 

It would have made a great magazine shoot for a knitting mag.  (Where are the camera crews when you need them?)  It was great inspiration to design.  The possibilities are endless!  Leave it to the kids to teach an old dog new looks.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Fun and Free Lunch Bag Pattern

This adorable lunch bag is in a back issue of the computer mag, Knitty.  It's a felted bag made in the round on big fat needles.  Try it!

If you're new to the idea of knitting in the round, this is a good pattern for you.  The bottom is worked back and forth, and then the edge stitches are picked up to make the body of the bag.  The clasp keeps the bag closed and in shape, so the shaping is minimal.  Make it in crayon-bright colors or traditional brown; it's a great gift for just about anyone! (Apple optional)

I love knitting in the round now, but remember how intimidating I found it back when I started.  I wish I had started on a pattern like this one! There is no danger of twisting or messing up the join because you're picking up stitches. If you're new to picking up stitches, remember to pick them up on a needle at least two sizes smaller than your working needles. (You can pick up on straights.) It makes it a smooth and easy process, and leaves plenty of room in the stitches to be worked.

New to felting? There is absolutely nothing to worry about.  This felting project has great instructions right in it.  Further felting info can be found here, including history, needle felting, washer felting, and how to info.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Again with the Newsletter

The blog is suffering its monthly lag because my writing time is being taken up by the Karma Knitting newsletter, due out on the 30th.  I'm still in a turkey-induced coma, more than a little studied out for school, and the writing is going slowly.

Sock one on the surprisingly tiny feet gift is almost done, making me grateful my dear friend doesn't have BIG feet.  (How long would that have taken?)  I still think I'll make it in time, but it will be tighter than I thought or want.

I'm looking forward to a change in December class planning.  Colleen suggested a monthly Knitting 101 class, and she was right.  The first Sunday of every month we will be teaching the very basics of knitting, purling, and simple increases and decreases.  I love the basic classes.  It's so cool to see people's faces when they get it!

Also, there will be a straight needle glove class.  (Picture at left.  The embroidery was an afterthought, and further proof I can't embroider!) )  They're really easy, and a good precursor to making gloves in the round to get an understanding of construction and shaping. 

I have to get back to the newsletter.  I hope to see you in class!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful

As a knitter, there are many things I'm very thankful for:

Alpaca, mercerized cotton, and superwash wool!

All the knitters for hundreds of years who have figured out the details of this craft and have written them down for me to understand.  (I would never have thought of this on my own!)

My LYS community, who keep me sane (ish), inspired, and plied with baked goods and yarn.

Knitting bloggers and Ravelry, who help me feel less alone when I can't write a pattern I like, or when I have to frog hours of work.  It's nice to know the "big kids" have these problems, too.

MaryAnn, Colleen, and Cecile, for our close-knit friendships.  I'd love you even if you didn't knit, but the knitting is so cool!

My family, who have loyally worn my work, no matter how strange or ill-fitting it may be.  They have heard "I'm almost finished with my row - I'll be right there" a million times, and only rarely roll their eyes.

All of you who read this.  Thanks for your comments, contributions, and talks in virtual and real life.  It's been a real enhancement to my knitting experience to hear from you.  Thank you.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Victory

I have conquered sock one of the holiday gift socks for the friend with surprisingly tiny feet.  I couldn't find the exact pattern I wanted, so I'm making a variation of one that I have and then adding the changes I want.  After no fewer than 7 attempts, the heel and sole are right where I want them and I'm steaming along toward sock two.  I hope I've made enough notes and accurate enough notes that I can successfully complete a sock two! Woo Hoo!

On a holiday note, I've been taking advantage of some quiet time at home this Thanksgiving week to get some heavy chores done, which means many trips to the basement.  Today, after one visit to the basement, I heard the dog whining (just a little).  I looked around, and he was closed in the basement.  Where his food is.  Where half of his food is.  The other half is in his tummy.  I can tell by the strange bulge in his abdomen (and the fact that the bag is a lot lighter). Max got his Thanksgiving feast a day early and without having to cook.  Genius!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Great and Cozy Quick Sock Pattern

The pattern for these beautiful socks can be found here.  It's amazing how such a simple (really, really simple) pattern can make such fabulous socks. 

Made in a DK weight (3), these knit up quickly and are a great addition to your gift knitting repetoire.  Somebody needs these as a holiday gift, care package, "because I love you", or charity project.  I've got mine.  I can't wait to see yours!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mean People Suck

I spent the afternoon at Karma yesterday, and was the designated Knit Doctor. A customer came in with a small problem and a big attitude.  Angry Customer was angry about an error my free pattern in the newsletter.  Angry about the correction I published a week later.  She had started tha pattern, had made some mistakes not related to my error.  She wanted me to rip back and re-knit the 18 rows.  (I didn't.)  She explained to me I was "foolish" to have made any mistakes, and that I shouldn't publish original patterns.  I should copy other patterns and cut and paste them into the newsletter.  (???)

I'm sure this balanced the universe in some way, but I wish I knew how. (Pride and curiosity are two of my Karmic tasks to overcome.) I didn't take the bait and argue, though I was tempted.  ("Foolish"?)  I said, "I sincerely and deeply apologize for any trouble my error has caused you."  I meant it.  If a mistake in a pattern can cause this sort of vitriol and condescension to be spewed into the world, I hope I never make another error!

Later, a Mother-Daughter came with yarn from a dear and deceased grandmother, and wanted to work her yarn into their projects to commemorate her.  They were confused and happy, asking answerless questions. "I lost the pattern, started this project a year ago, and wonder what to do next.  I think it was gloves.  Or mittens.  How can I finish them?"  It was hard to meet their needs, but they were happy.  What a contrast to Angry Customer. 

On reflection,  I hope Karma Knitting offers Angry Customer some peace in her life.  I hope Mother-Daughter gets satisfaction out of their commemoration project.  And I'm really glad that Angry Customer was gone before Mother-Daughter came in.  It would have ruined their lovely gesture of respect.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Swatch Journey

Swatches have such a strange reputation!  Some people look at them as a necessary evil, others a waste of time, and still others love them and see them as a resource.


Cascade 220 sampler afghan.  Pattern available.

My experiences with swatches have included all of the above.  And then I took a journey.  I had come back knitting after a hiatus of several years, and had knit quite a few projects.  I was worried, though, because I would read a pattern and not be able to remember how to do certain techniques I used to zip through with ease 20 years ago.  I very quickly felt boxed in with what I was able to do, and phobic that I might get into a project only to discover I didn't know how to finish it.  So I decided to swatch every skill I had any interest in or possible future need for.

It was just a notion until I saw a sampler afghan that a friend had crocheted.  Aha!  A possible use for all these swatches beyond a simple learning project!  Shortly after that I was off to the races.  I started simple with relearning stripes.  One swatch down.  Then intarsia blocks.  I probably worked and ripped two swatches for every one I finished in the beginning.  (My daughter ripped out a finished one early on because she had seen Mommy do it.  I cried.)  I was sure I was doomed.

I was also crazy busy during the day with work and four kids and a very sick mother in law, and a bunch of other madness.  When I wanted to knit, I only had a couple of minutes to maybe an hour.  I couldn't start a new project or take a class, so I kept cranking out swatches.  Cables...  Basketweaves...  Bobbles were nearly the end of me and my knitting career. 

Life settled down, and I had 19 swatches.  I realized I really had a shot at finishing this sampler afghan after all.  And as decided to repeat some of the blocks I was amazed at how much easier they were the second and then the third time.  The blanket ended up being 36 blocks large, and although I can tell which blocks were early swatches and which I did at the end, it looks pretty good, even now, 5 years later.  I'm grateful to my swatch journey for reinforcing (and sometimes inventing) my knitting skills.  And I'm very grateful when I see my kids cozied up under the finished afghan.  I made that!  I learned so much. Swatches and I are friends now.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

LYS Yarn and Patterns Giveaway

Super cool giveaway from Classic Elite, approximately a $20 value.  A guest post from Classic Elite.  PASS IT ON TO YOUR FRIENDS!  Use the share links at the bottom of this post.


Do you Love Your Shop?

Classic Elite wants to give back to those who risk it all to follow their dreams, open yarn shops and keep them open in these changing and challenging times. In fact, we have so much faith in those dreams that we want to give everyone a present.
Spend $40 or more on yarn or books between now and December 15th, send us a copy of your itemized receipt and we’ll send you a recent pattern book and three mini-skeins of Classic Elite Yarn, just for buying local.
It's our "thank you" to all the knitters and crocheters who recognize the value of supporting our local knitting communities.
Find out more about the Love Your Shop giveaway on our blog and view complete rules and details on our web site.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Little Red Car

This is a guest piece from my childhood friend Christina Anderson Barnhill.  She's creative, able, and more than a little feisty (as I recall), and not one to take "no" for an answer.  It sounds like her son is following in her footsteps!  (On this car, I LOVE the little wipers!)

"I was looking for something to make for Matthew (girls are so much easier to crochet for) because he saw me making stuff for his sister and was feeling left out. His brother, Ed, has a red Camaro and Matthew wanted a red car too. I made up the pattern as I went along. The wheels sort of match the wheels of the Camaro. After I finished it I realized it has no roof. Oh well, Ed's car has T-tops and so does Matthew's.

Matthew is very specific when he asks for something. I offered to make him a hat and he told me he wanted it orange with a red stripe, with red fish swimming around it and a sea anemone on the front. We ended up designing a coral reef pillow. I haven't done it yet but I have the notes for it. I made him a scarf to his specs once. I didn't think it would look right but it came out cute. He is my little designer, next month he will be 7."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Stag Leap Square

I made this pattern for the Square of the Month for my LYS Newsletter.  I will be sharing these graphs as I make them.  They are all 38 stitches by 50 rows. The idea is that as you choose to make them, if they all match they can be the front and back of a pillow or purse, or squares in a blanket or throw.  They take size 7 needles with worsted yarn, or size 5 needles with Dk.  Worsted makes an 8x8 square.  This work is copyrighted.  Please do not reproduce without credit, and a link to this blog.  Thank you!

Grey cells = knit on RS, purl on WS
White cells = purl on RS, knit on WS
©Elisabeth Marino 2010.  All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

We're Not Sheep

There are so many stereotypes in the world, it shouldn't be surprising that there are stereotypes about knitters, too.  Spending so much time in the LYS and with other knitters, I've noticed quite a lot about us knitters as a group.  Interestingly enough, the one thing we all have in common is that we don't all have much in common!

Some of us are 8 and in elementary school, some of us are 30, and some of us are retired. (Why do people always picture Granny in a rocking chair?)  Some of us are men, some women.  We prefer to knit alone or in groups or in front of the TV.  We insist on washable fibers, or we couldn't care less as long as it's beautiful.  (It's like we're clones, right?)

Favorite fibers vary, although based on sales, natural fibers are more popular than synthetics.  Many people will knit gifts in a more expensive fiber than they use for themselves, while some look for something inexpensive but durable.  Customers often use a different fiber than called for in the pattern as long as they can match the gauge, but almost as often insist on the same fiber called for in the pattern.

Most of us have abandoned using the specific yarn (i.e. Kraemer Classic) called for in a pattern, while some of us are very precise about using the yarn called for.  Color choices tend to be all over the map, from folks who love a nice grey to the wild "Crazy Aunt Purl" colors so many of us think of when we remember hand knits from our childhoods.  It seems we rarely use the color specified in the pattern.

While blends rule with sock knitters, what exactly is blended varies from yarn to yarn and knitter to knitter.  Cashmere and nylon, cotton and spandex, wool and acrylic, and wool and polyamid will readily all show up in one sock knitter's list of favorites.

What's true about nearly all of us is that we're a pretty cool bunch.  Most of us are happy to meet other knitters of any age, race, nationality, or profession.  We share needles, tools, patterns, and of course, food and drink with knitters we know well and with total strangers.  We're like a crafty little AFL-CIO.  (I'm sure some political conservatives just cringed at the reference.)

We are not sheep.  We're a community.  I love it.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sarcasm

Holiday knitting is sometimes more labor than love.  I'm feeling a little sarcastic today, and think that could manifest very well in knitting. Sarcastic gift suggestions follow:

For the folks who have to put on jewelry with everything, make socks with gold yarn and sequins.

For the fashion forward type, obviously something convertible so they can change it at their fashion whim.

For the one who is always cold, a sweater with an inside p-p-pocket for a hot water b-b-bottle.

For the one who is always warm, start a sweater, and give it to them unfinished so they'll never feel obligated to wear it. 

For the shy, I recommend a flesh toned balaclava (ski mask).

For the wine drinker, something in a nice Cabernet (color).  For the beer drinker, something washable in case they spill while excited watching the game.  For both, a little pocket for the Tylenol for the possible impending hangover.

For the couch potato(e for Dan Quayle), a sweater with pockets for remote, phone, and snacks. The design on the front could be the blip line of an EKG, illustrating they still have a pulse.

For the angry curmudgeon type, any garment with a smiley face would be great.  (Gotta love the contrast.)

For the very vain, a hat that looks like their hairstyle so they'll never have to worry about hat-head.

For yourself, a good laugh and a good-natured hug.  Enjoy your holiday knitting projects!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Minis, Homework, and Future Projects

I had a knitting class to teach today.  It was a sock class.  I decided to teach a mini sock, ornament sized, because it has all the same skills as a big sock, but with a tiny fraction of the stitches.  (I like  minis as teaching tools in general.  Here are a few in front of our very small fireplace at the shop.)

I know some people want to come to class and get right to work on their garment or project, and although I get that, there's a reason I don't teach that way.  Each project contains it's own group of necessary skills.  In this sock, as an example, we have cast on, knit, purl, ssk, psso, k2tog, picking up stitches, knitting in the round, knitting straight (for heel flap), and of course toe grafting.  That's a lot of skills.  I try to reinforce all the skills in a single class rather than have students come back.  The only way to do this and accommodate all the different knitting speeds and skills is to work on a mini project or swatch.  Otherwise I would have to assign homework, and ask people to come back when they are ready for the next step.  This would make fast knitters as crazy as slower knitters. So, swatches and minis.  You can make the big projects at home.

On a more personal note, my daughter was really happy with her hat and mittens.  I'm thinking of doing a fair isle skull motif on mittens for my 18 yr old son.  After two more pairs of socks and my vest, of course.  **fingers crossed behind my back**

More Variations on Art Knitting

This link will take you to photos by my friend Christina Anderson Barnhill of projects she made for her adorable son.  You'll love 'em!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Chill Chaser Cable Cap

Ok, the truth is I just loved the idea of all those C's together in the title.  The designer of this pattern calls it Gehry, after Frank Gehry the architect (think Guggenheim museum).  She lives in Chicago, where winters are even more unpleasant than here.  These people understand the need for a good hat.

She indicates in her blog that it would be a great cap to use to learn cable techniques.  I'm going to trust her on that because I haven't made it yet.  Even so, I wanted to share it with you.  I've added it to my list of "things I need to make".  With a small amount of yarn and pretty big needles (9's and 10's!) I might be able to fit one in before the holidays!

What's On the Needles Now

Right now, I have to bind off my daughters cabled mitts.  I should have finished them two weeks ago, but I left them undone at the thumb gusset so I could use them as an example in a class I was teaching.  Now they've been around so long, they just aren't exciting anymore.  They're still beautiful, and on great yarn.  I think I'm just more into variety... I'll finish them today just to alleviate my guilt.

I've also started a pair of socks for a dear girlfriend (who has surprisingly tiny feet for an adult!), and since they are on the magical Nichole Sock Yarn by Schaefer, they are absurdly seductive.  They call to me like Sirens, trying to get me to forsake all knitting for them.  "Back to knitting monogamy", they urge!

I haven't started my cool vest in brioche stitch, mostly because I'm a chicken.  I don't want to discover I've bitten off more than I can chew.  Now that it's in print, however, I will get it on the needles this weekend.

PS - Has anybody seen the cute Spiral Cap and Fair Isle Mittens I knit for my daughter's birthday?  Her birthday is tomorrow, and I've hidden them from her so well I've ended up hiding them from myself! :(  I didn't take a picture, so if I don't find them, I can't even give her a snapshot!  ***frustrated grumbling***

PPS - I found them, hiding out in a sample bin at the knit shop.  They're a little washed out in the photo, but cute in person.  I hope she likes 'em!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Knitting Sins 1

Oh yes, I have sinned against my yarn, my patterns, and against my tools.  I hope for knitting absolution from the knitting gods. (I have several projects to finish before the holidays, and this is a bad time to have the knitting gods angry with me.)

I have used my knitting needles as a tool for things they were not designed for.  I've used the straights for backscratching, my DPNs as blocking pins, and short circs as stitch holders.  Needles have been used as bookmarks, and been accidentally put away in the book.  I have used needles to grab small things out of nooks and crannies.  I have used a needle as a straight edge to draw a straight line.  I have used them to hold together my gingerbread houses.  (Short DPNs work really well.)   Please give me another chance.  Things will be different.  I promise.

I have done BAD things to my yarn.  I have used fine, hand-made fibers to tie bows on doll hair, make a leash for my daughter's cat, and yes, even donated them to diorama projects.  I have split plies, and cut tangled skeins I should have carefully untied.  I have machine-washed yarns that were not superwash.  I have even used hand-made fibers to make pom poms.  (I'm mortified!)   I don't know what I was thinking. 

I have decided I am smarter than the pattern.  I have taken shortcuts, like using a different cast-on.  I have changed stitch patterns.  I have not corrected my mistakes, and ended up with the hideous garments I deserved.  I have arrogantly changed needle size and yarn weight without doing the math because I thought I could handle it.  (I couldn't.)  I have ignored assembly instructions, turning a perfectly good garment into an Escher cartoon.  I have started projects on  aluminum needles and finished them on plastic.  I have knotted and cut yarn ends instead of weaving them in.  And after these sins, I have blamed the pattern, because it couldn't have been my fault.

I have entitled this post Knitting Sins 1 because I know there are more sins I have committed that I just don't remember right now.  And of course, I know there will be more.  I'll admit them as they come to me, and I hope you'll share some of yours with me, too.  I'll feel less alone. :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Where People Knit

It's fascinating to me the places and times that people pull out their knitting.  I knit at home between chores, after dinner, or while helping the kids with their homework.  Other people knit at baby's naptime, or on their lunch hour, or waiting at the doctor's office.  Older women used to knit in the back pews of church when I was a kid.  WOW!  One of my friends knits at her daughter's swim practice.  It's 80+ degrees in there and humid, but she's happy with a lap full of wool.  I don't get it, but it works for her.

I read a story by a friend of mine about how she knits during dialysis, and she spends that time knitting for charity.  Spending her time thinking about people who are less fortunate makes those hours feel much more worthwhile.  She's a saint, no doubt about it.  I love that her hobby makes a time when she could easily feel sorry for herself into a gift of love.

There are also reports of musicians knitting between takes of music videos, and actors knitting on the set.  Not in their trailers, mind you, but right out in the open.  I wonder if  they say to the director, "Hold on.  I just have to finish this row..."

In Montana, one of my girlfriends can see cowboys on horseback hearding sheep and goats up the mountain's grazing flats outside her office.  She swears they knit in their down time during the summer.  Being a cowboy doesn't pay much at all.  I'm guessing being a cowboy is chilly work in the Cascade Mountains in the winter, and with those sheep in front of them all the time, I guess it makes sense.  It's the last thing I'd imagine in a cowboy's knapsack, though...

In the Andes, men are the principal knitters, and they tend to knit while walking.  They load up their burros, put their knitting stuff in pockets on the front of their sweaters, and knit for miles while they walk to and from market.  I don't think I could knit and walk without bumping into stuff or messing up the pattern, let alone manuever a burro over a mountain to and from market while knitting.  Yeesh!

Where do you knit?  Where are some interesting places you've seen people knitting?  Have you knit in a spot where people looked at you funny?  Where?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cozy Sweater Pattern for the Chill in the Air

The weather is wintry, with frost on the grass and the cars every morning.  Coffee and cocoa are replacing iced tea and lemonade.  All the little drafts in the house are evident once again, and the coziest throw in the family room is always in use.  This sweater pattern is cozy and quick, and will make a great addition to your wardrobe or make a great gift.  (Note: pattern is listed in CENTIMETERS.  There is a link to INCHES)

Alpaca is the warmest fiber, and in bulky makes an outer layer like a jacket.  If you want a lighter layer, make it in worsted weight, or in wool or acrylic.  Any of our bulky weight varigated yarns will make this project sing. For a different look, make it in a solid.

Because it's knit on 8's it knits up pretty quickly. Its rated as EASY by the designer/manufacturer.  And if you need a hand, ask a Knit Doctor at Karma.  We'll be happy to give you hand!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Where You Buy Your Yarn

The knitting ladies at Karma have been coming in for their visits, and their sit-and-knits.  In very large numbers, visitors have been coming in with yarns purchased somewhere else (usually online sources) and showing them off to the owner and the Knit Doctors.  They proceed to visit, drink coffee, knit awhile, and then leave without making any purchase of any kind.

Really?  I get that the economy is challenging all of us right now, and that no knitter will every buy all of their yarn from only one source. From time to time a fiber show, a vacation, or another shop will tempt us all.   I do not get people bringing in yarn purchased from competitors and expecting the staff of the Local Yarn Shop  (LYS) to be excited about their purchase.

In the national and local scenes, the LYS is threatened species.  None of us knit because we must. We knit because we love it.  It's a luxury hobby, whether you knit in acrylic or cashmere.  Since the economy is slow, fewer people have discretionary cash to spend on yarn.  Fewer yarn buyers mean fewer yarn  sales, which means LYS owners are making less money.  Sources indicate that the US has lost over 15% of its Local Yarn Shops in the last year!  Online sources have suffered as well, but to a much smaller extent. 

Our shop owner, MaryAnn, is perhaps the nicest woman on the earth.  She would never show her frustration or hurt feelings when people rub their purchases from elsewhere in her face.  I am not as nice, and am saying in plain terms "Knock it off!"  It's rude to show MaryAnn what you didn't buy from her.  Karma is a business, first and foremost.  The primary focus is to turn a small profit.  Every sale matters, no matter how small.

There are very, very few yarns that cannot be had through Karma, or a satifactory substitute is available.  Every possible price point is represented.  If the LYS is an important part of your knitting life, spend your money there.  Karma is a community shop, supported by the local knitting community.  When the locals stop buying, the shop will close.  It's karma at it's simplest.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Cool Cabled Mitts Class

I'm up changing all my clocks, and thinking about my class at 12:30.  People have been really interested in these mitts, and they are SO much easier than they look.  I will be teaching at Karma at the new 12:30.  I wonder how many students will show up at the old one?

Remember, classes are free with yarn purchase on class day, so if you want these mitts, come get the yarn.  We'll give you the class and the pattern free of charge!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Variation on a Theme

Back to the Knitting as Art concept.  Monster Crochet is a fascinating blog by a woman whose creativity seems endless.  What I like most is that her sense of humor is a little bent.  Her photos are FAB, and her needlework is flawless.  My current faves are the Bacon Scarf and the Cherry Pie Beret. 

So gorgeous!  I can't crochet to save my life, but I surely appreciate the time it must take to chart these patterns, find the exact right colors of yarn, and work the right stitch combos to make it work.  My hat's off to Regina!  Keep up the beautiful (and inspiring) work!

Friday, November 5, 2010

First November Freebies

I've been so focused on changes at Karma and trying to keep up with my own life that I've neglected the Free Patterns of the week.  Let's remedy that right now.  A really pretty straight needle mitten pattern on 8's with worsted can be found here.  The cold days of this week had me digging out all the mittens and gloves I've made myself in the last few years (at least the ones the kids haven't "Borrowed") and I know it's time to have a pair in the pockets of all of my coats. 

The second pattern is more intricate, for more advanced knitters. It's a cozy cowl, perfect for feeling snug in a midweight jacket or sweater.  Cowls are also a huge style trend for this winter, worn with everything from long sleeved tees to turtlenecks to blazers. 

I'm off to the Wine and Cheese Help Party tonight at Karma.  I hope to see you there!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Knitting as Art

My friend Colleen sent me this link this morning. "Transcending the Material"  It's amazing what this man (yes, MAN) has designed and knitted!  Please click, and scroll through the photos. 

Another amazing knitting artist is Jan Messent.  She has written about a dozen books on knitted art projects, as well as another 2 dozen on other forms of needlework. Check her out at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.


A Ferrari, full sized, was designed by Lauren Porter. She submitted this as her final project at Bath Spa University for an arts degree.

There are thousands of knit artists out there, and doing truly amazing work.  There's a woman knitting DNA strands, one who has knit the major organs of the body, several who have knit sweaters for public sculptures and trees, and even one giant knit spider web. 

Knitting a beautiful garment or blanket is an art in itself. Outside-the-box knitting, as seen here, definitely isn't for everyone.  The true capacities of this craft never cease to amaze me, though.  There is always more to learn about design, construction, technique, and discipline.  As you become aware of other great knit artists, please let us know.  We'll be happy to show you more pictures!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Exhaustion

It's DONE!  The shop is complete.  The shoppers have hit the sale bins hard, and the new merchandise is also headed out the door.  And I'm tired.  Ridiculously, achingly, slightly bruisedly exhausted.  So are the others involved in making the updates and the new look.

The feedback we've been receiving from the customers is fabulous. Please let us know what you think of the changes.  See you soon!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Karma's New Look

Wow!  It was a ton of work, a lot of fun, and took more than a little creativity, but the shop is just about ready for customers.  (It will be ready in a few hours when we open!)  There are great new yarns, huge new sales, a new schedule to include Friday Night Wine and Cheese Parties, a few new policies...  It's so cool!  We are all very excited, so please join us and let us know what you think!  And remember, Tuesdays have additional markdowns.  If you can swing by today you'll have first crack at the very best pricing and selection!  We hope to see you soon.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Evolution

I spent 9 hours at the knit shop yesterday with the boss and a friend.  We moved things, cleaned things, built things, took things apart.  We put things on sale, pressed things, and brought in new product.  We removed furniture and brought in new.  We vaccuumed alot.  We forgot to eat, and later in the afternoon were amazingly grateful for tuna subs.  I was there for 3 hours this morning, and figure it will be another 5 or 6 before we're done. 

A few people came into the shop during the 3 hours our shop is normally open.  The shoppers were happy and want to see how it comes out.  People who come to sit and knit without spending any money, however, were out and out rude.  I was so defensive of MaryAnn!  I was shocked that people would speak sharply to her because they couldn't sit around and knit and drink coffee.  Of these able-bodied women, do you think anyone offered to help?  Of course not.  It was Halloween, so maybe it was the phase of the moon.  I hope so.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Slice of Pie Square Knit Along

Each month I put a quick square knit along in the Karma Knitting newsletter.  The response has been good, so I thought I'd add it to the blog.  I write it out because many of our knitters dislike knitting from charts. I'll post a picture when I finish a full-sized version of the finished product.  If you make this, please let me know.  Send pictures!  Enjoy!

Cast on 38 stitches on size 7 needles with worsted, or 5's with DK.  Worsted finished size is approximately 8x8 inches.

Rows 1-5: K across
6-12:K3, P32, K3 even rows, K across odd rows
13:K11, P21, K6
14:K3, P8, K2, (p1, K1) 9x, K1, P3, K3
15:K6,(P1, K1) 10x, P2, K10
16: K3, P7, (K1, P1) 11x, K1, P2, K3
17: K5, P1, (P1, K1) 10x, P3, K9
18:K3, P6, K1, (K1, P1) 11x, K1, P2, K3 
19:K6, (P1, K1), P2, K8
20:K3, P5, (K1, P1) 11x, K2, P3, K3
21:K5, P1, (P1, K1) 11x, P2, K9
22:K3, P4, K2, (P1, K1) 12x, P2, K3
23:K5, P2, (K1, P1) 5x, K3, P2, K2, P8, K6
24:K3, P1, K3, P1, K1, P5, K2, P2, K6, P4, K5, P2, K3
25:K6, P2, K2, P4, K14, P1, K4, P1, K5
26:K3, P2, K1, P3, K1, P19, K2, P4, K3
27:K8, P1, K18, P1, K1, P1, K2, P1, K5
28:K3, P3, K2, P2, K1, P11, K2, P4, K1, P6, K3
29:K10, P1, K5, P3, K7, P1, K4, P1, K6
30:K3, P3, K1, P4, K1, P5, K2, P7, K1, P8,  K3
31:K12, P1, K12, P1, K4, P1, K7
32:K3, P4, K1, P2, K1, P2, K1, P10, K1, P10, K3
33:K14, P1, K9, P1, K3, P2, K8
34:K3, P5, K1, P5, K1, P7, K1, P12, K3
35:K16, P1, K5, P1, K5, P1, K9
36:K3, P7,K1, P2, K1, P2, K5, P14, K3
37:K21, P1, K3, P2, K11
38:K3, P9, K1, P2, K1, P19, K3
39:K22, P1, K1, P1, K13
40:K3, P11, K1, P20, K3
41-46:K3, P32, K3 odd rows, K across even rows
47-50:K across
Bind off. Weave in ends.  If pattern is not clear on square, block item.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Month End

Halloween is fast approaching, and so is the end of the month.  The newsletter is due out, the new classes need to be finalized, and the changes at the shop are about to begin.  I'm still studying my brains out and being a mom, and I'm a little frazzeled.  Sorry for the lack of news in the last few days.  I'll be back in the saddle soon.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Late For School

This morning I  awoke to a knocking at my bedroom door.  My teenage daughter stood there, frustrated that her school bus hadn't come.  This has been an intermittent problem this year.  She wanted me to give her a ride.  The steps were cold on my bare feet as I came donwstairs to assess the situation.  The clock read 7:08.  She could easily make it if she walked.  Her response to this suggestion was that it was too cold.  It was 52 degrees. 

"Dont you have a warmer coat?"

"They're at Daddy's."

"A hat or mittens?" I thought this was really a stretch, but if she's cold, she's cold.

"Nope."

I have knit this child several hats, multiple mittens, a  few scarves, and more.  Her father has purchased several from the store.  She has more winter accessories than most people have socks.  I heaved a sigh of frustration and mild sleepiness.  Then I dug in the closet and gave her a pair of my fair isle mittens.  She went off to walk to school, and I immediately started to wonder whether my handmade mittens would end up in the same black hole as all her other missing accessories.  It's frustrating.  After school today she'll be digging out all her "missing" knitwear so she won't have to borrow from me anymore.  I should photograph it just to prove to myself that it exists, and that I didn't hallucinate it all.  I can give her the picture the next time she tells me she doesn't have any hats or mittens. 

By the way, I talked to the school.  She was late today.  AAAAAARGH!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Color Confidence

Sometimes when I want to make a colorwork pattern I have a hard time deciding what colors to put together.  A two color fair isle sweater looks great in black and white, or most any color and white.  What if I don't want white? What if the yarn I like doesn't come in the colors suggested in the pattern?  What if the colors I choose are great, but the garment doesn't go with anything I already own?

Different colorwork patterns require different color relationships.  A two color geometric might need contrast, but an intarsia flower may do well in more similar color values.  Maybe you need funky colors, maybe traditional.  One thing that helps me is to use colors from something I own.  A bookcover may have a terrific two-color contrast, a teacup may have a nice group of colors; even furniture upholstery works beautifully.  Or, just break out the crayons.  Really! They're portable, so find the colors you like and take them with you to the shop.

The yarn store staff is usually happy to help.  Ask if you can return or exchange any unused skeins if you change your mind.  Color is one of the great joys of  knitting.  Go get some!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Changes Afoot

A great day at the knit shop yesterday.  Most importantly, Paula gave me a loaf of her amazing Amish bread!  Very little will soothe the troubled soul or delight the happy like this bread.  Usually she just brings a loaf for the shop.  The world seems like a better place today with that bread in my tummy...

The LYS owner and I had a good visit yesterday and solidified some of the changes we want to make in the shop for the holiday season.  (We'll make the changes on Sunday and Monday, and re-open on Tuesday.)  It'll be a long couple of days of work, but it'll be worth it.  Furniture's moving, paint is changing, inventory is changing, hours are changing, staff is changing, and more.  Woo Hoo!  It's so cool when someone you love gets a makeover, even when it's a yarn shop.  :)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Great Free Slipper Pattern

I got up this morning to discover that my dog had eaten one of my favorite pairs of shoes.  I hate shopping for anything but yarn, so I am deeply bummed that I need to replace these!  Since I don't know how to knit shoes, the shopping seems inevitable.

There is one bit of bright side here, though.  It got me to thinking seriously about what makes a good slipper.  (It's a footwear thought process...)  First, it would be one my dog would never be tempted to eat.  Second, it would be really comfy but durable.  Third, I would be able to knit it from my stash.  This pattern from Crystal Palace yarns for Perky Puffin Slippers almost escaped my notice because I thought it would look like the bird puffin.  Thankfully it does not.  These slipper sox are lovely, and suitable for man or woman depending on the color used.  I think if I make them I'll put a vinyl sole on them.  Leather seems a little too tempting to my four-legged friend...

Saturday, October 23, 2010

What's Next

I'm trying to figure out what classes to offer next.  Things that have been popular in the past?  Something new?  Advanced techniques or something simpler?  A specific project or a skill with a wide application?  Seasonal for today, or something for next season?  Yeesh!  So many possibilities!

What if I offer cables?  Do I choose a pattern with cables in it?  Or do I teach the principles of cables and leave the pattern choice to the students?  Basic cables or reversible cables or cables that make intricate knots and weaves?  Usually when I teach a class the students leave with a swatch made in class that contains all of the techniques needed for the project.  Other teachers will offer multiple classes, and say "For homework, work until you start the decrease for the armhole.  We'll pick it up there next week."  Decisions, decisions.

Since the next several classes will be free, price won't be a factor.  What kind of class do you like?  What would you like to learn next?  I'd love to hear from you!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Mr. Socks

He never did take them off, so I had to photograph them on his feet. Maybe I can wash them while he's sleeping...