Wednesday, October 31, 2012

"What's a Clapotis?"

At Rhinebeck, Colleen was shopping while I was waiting in line to pay, and she overheard the question, "What's a Clapotis?!"  The speaker pronounced it kluh-po-tiss, and the combo of the tone of voice and the pronunciation cracked Colleen up.  The woman speaking was probably referring to the Clapotis Shawl (pronounced Klap-oh-tee) by Kate Gilbert.

So, no matter how you say it, what is a Clapotis?  It's a French word for a stable wave pattern, such as you might see on the top of water at the edge of a pool.  There's a longer, very science-y explanation on Wikipedia, if you're so inclined.  As a knitted garment, it's a shawl with an undulating stitch pattern that moves in a fluid way.  Very pretty.

I mention this because there's a wonderful tutorial about how to perform this stitch on the Needles & Hooks blog, which I've linked here.  If you're as seduced as I and so many others are by this lovely pattern, take a look at this article.  It reminds how to handle estimating yardage, performing and modifying the stitch, and even has a companion hat pattern!  Enjoy!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Charity Knits Update

Now we have a Ravelry Group!  (We went from 2 members to 59 in roughly 24 hours, and I am getting excited!)

On the Rav group there is a thread about the charities you may choose to donate to.  Please look into your local options through Department of Social Services, homeless shelters, church and religious groups, and cancer support groups.  Many communities have Coats for Kids initiatives, as well as domestic abuse shelters, and foster care programs.  If you're still looking for a recipient, talk to your nearest hospital about charity donations.

Watching Hurricane Sandy wreak havoc on the East coast (and so many of my loved ones) makes me aware that there will also be many groups doing outreach support for those who are displaced or homeless in the path of the storm. 

Thanks for all your support!  I love that so many people want to start early!  You guys totally rock.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

What to Knit Holiday 2012 2 - Scarves

If your holiday knitting includes scarves, you're not the only one.  How do you make a scarf special?  Choose the right pattern for your recipient, and choose the right yarn for your pattern.  All patterns are free, and photos are from

This kerchief, called the Age of Brass and Steam by Orange Flower, can be knit light and ethereal, or thick and cozy, depending on the gender and needs of the giftee!

The Noro Striped Scarf by Jared Flood is a quick knit in two balls of color-pooling yarn. The effect is charming, and the length can be easily modified for an adult or child.

One of the most popular patterns of the last decade is Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's One Row Scarf.  This scarf is fully reversible, and there's only one row of pattern to remember!  It's a fast knit in worsted on US 8's.  By varying needle and yarn weight, you can make this as delicate or as burly as you like.

Is there a special child in your life?  Do they love stories of kings and queens and dragons?  The Fiery Dragon Scarf by Brooke Hanna, is nothing short of delightful.  This is an easy knit, with only minimal shaping, making it quick while still being impressive.

Need a lighter scarf in the same creative department?  Try the Monty the Python scarf by Rowan Martindale.  Made on US 9's, it's fast and adorable!

If none of these work for you, remember that most yarn manufacturers offer between dozens and thousands of free patterns on their websites.  Dig through your stash, choose your yarn, and then turn to the manufacturer for the pattern that will make you and your loved ones happy.  Good luck!


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Rhinebeck 2012 Photos 2

Here is the rest of our trip in pictures.  I think it's pretty self-explanatory.  Sheep, vendors, and scenery...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Charity Hats 2013 KAL

I've made a commitment to myself that I'm going to knit at least one hat per month for 2013 and donate each one to charity.  I don't know whether they'll all go to the same charity or different ones, but I'll post something each month about where they're going.

I used to be much better about charity knitting, and have let it take a back seat to my crazy life and schedule.  In the karmic circle of life, I'm no longer putting out the benevolent energy and example I want to receive, and that needs to change.  Others have been, and are, there for me in my times of need, and I want to, as they say, "Pay it forward."

To that end, I've been designing a simple hat that will be my first charity hat of 2013.  I'll publish the pattern here and on Ravelry, so if you'd like to join in, you can.  A few folks have generously offered to design hats for other months, and I think the variety will be fun.

If you wish to submit an original design for this project, please note: I will need a copy of the completed pattern with a photo of the completed object included by the 15th of the month BEFORE your hat is to appear in the blog.  This KAL has been mentioned on our Facebook page, and on Twitter, and your name will be featured for the month of your pattern being knit. 

I will create a Ravelry group, and I encourage you to participate there.  Invite your friends.  Use up your stash in a way that serves your community.  I look forward to it!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Rhinebeck Notes 1

Miss Colleen (with Lupe) @NYS S&W
The NYS Sheep and Wool Festival, affectionately known as Rhinebeck, was held last week.  There were 4 days of workshops and 2 general public shopping days in what is the largest (though temporary) knitting, weaving and crochet specific mall in the world.  And every year, people come from all over the country and world to participate.

My intrepid and magical assistant, Colleen Croce, was able to make the trip with me.  Here she is setting up the classroom with Lupe, my daughter's ragdoll.  (Lupe makes all my business trips with me.  Long story.)
The town of Rhinebeck is an old rural town nestled in the Catskills.  The fall color was vibrant and beautiful, and the Fairgrounds hosting the event were as picturesque as any little New England town.  The grounds are beautifully groomed, and when they fill in with avid fiber fans, they're still stunning.
The best vendors, both food and fiber, quickly draw a crowd, and then a line.  Time in line passes quickly, though.  Folks read each other's Ravelry IDs off buttons on their chest.  They discuss the knitwear everyone is wearing.  And before you know it, you're dining and shopping with new friends.  More to come tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Creativ Festival, Toronto Ont

When most people picture Toronto Ontario, one of the first things they think of is the unique skyline, punctuated with the CN tower.  The photo at right is the tower reflected in the building around the corner from my hotel.  My DH took the photo in a rare moment of sun peeking through the clouds.  The watery effect created by the glass suits the weather in general pretty well.


The photo below of me walking in the rain sums up how I spent a fair amount of time when I wasn't in class.  I carry a lot of teaching supplies with me, but some of that is luggage.
There's a photo of one of the many 8 foot posters advertising the festival.  It was necessary because the festival occupied 2 floors and approximately 30 rooms. Very cheerful!
The last shot is of me teaching a colorwork class.  Thanks to Cascade Yarns for the yarn support, and to all my wonderful students for a great weekend!


Moments from Woodstock

 Woodstock first!  All photos by my husband, Dave Marino of David Marino Photography.

The antique sock knitting machine below is just too cool!  Beautiful and hand made, now there are mass produced ones.
Antique Sock-Knitting Machine in use
Barbie doll heads, glitter and ribbon peek out of this novelty yarn, below. I don't know what I'd knit out of this!  It's a big trend to have large chunky stuff peeking out of your novelty yarns...  I don't really get it.
This sock yarn is supercool for socks, but I'm thinking of messing around with gloves!  It's the TurtleToes yarn from the previous post. Love it!
 Just some of the amazing hand made spindles available at the festival.  All the patterns are burned into the finished objects.

A kind gentleman explaining to me and my husband how easy it is to use a nostepinne. (It's a doodad for hand-winding center-pull skeins.)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Quickie - Burberry Inspired Sock Yarn

I go to a lot of fibery events where lovely fibers are available for sale.  I've seen hundreds of vendors of fine handmade wares - knitting tools, jewelry, yarns, spinning fiber, spinning wheels, buttons - everything I could imagine.  And I see it weekend after weekend.

So when I see something I've never seen before, it's a big surprise.  This past weekend at the Woodstock Fleece Festival in Woodstock, Ontario, I saw three things I've never seen before, all of which I thought were terrific.  One was pre-weighed, pre-portioned nylon to be spun with other fibers into sock yarn.  There were little tubes of different weights in different colors, with notes on how much to add to different types of fiber for different weights of yarn.  Love it!  But since I don't spin, I don't need it.

Then I saw this.  Turtlepurl TurtleToes yarn.  I love it!  I love the colorway, and the fiber, and the way it self-stripes on a typical sock.  This is their web shop, and this is the link to the yarn I bought.  (I've borrowed the photos at left directly from their website.)  The owner usually divides her sock skeins into pairs so that folks can knit two at a time, but I bought a single 450yd hank.  I'd love to make socks, but my immediate thought was to make gloves, and see how the stripes distribute themselves across the fingers. 

I also saw an antique sock knitting machine, which was operated by a hand crank.  If you're into such things, it was remarkably beautiful.  A woman was using it to make socks, and demonstrating how moving different pins around made different patterns.  It was manufactured in 1924, and a pair of socks, excepting the heels and toes which were added by hand, can be made in about 15 minutes.  Photos to follow in a future post, when the crazy days of Rhinebeck are behind me!


I Wish I Were About to Brag About My Coolness

I've just gotten home from 4 days in Ontario.  I taught 6 classes over 2 festivals.   It rained most of every day.  I'm not a person who has a good sense of direction inside buildings or outside on cloudy or rainy days.  I need to see the sun, and figure it out from there.

I arrived in Toronto at 2, and was amazed by the amount of construction going on, and the traffic was heavy.  I pulled up in front of the hotel, and started to unload.  I went inside, and the desk clerk told me there was no parking at the hotel, but there was some 4 blocks away.  I drove to the suggested parking lot, and noted that it said, among other things, that it was parking for the Metro Toronto Convention Center.  "Great" I thought, because the MTCC is where I was supposed to teach later in the day.  I walked to the elevator from my car, and ended up deposited in a lobby I didn't recognize.  I stopped at the information desk, asked directions to my hotel (I was all turned around from driving around in the parking deck.)  I was given bad directions, and walked 6 blocks in the wrong direction, still in the rain. 

When I finally checked into the hotel, I decided I should go to the MTCC to get my classroom set up.  The MTCC is the largest non-sports arena building I've ever been in.  It's over 5 city blocks!  I entered at the far end from my class.  5 blocks and 8 floors later, I found my classroom.  I signed in, got my official materials, and then it was time to set up my room.  I asked the Workshop Coordinator where the parking deck was.  "Which one?"

Um, -?  "I parked in a deck that said it was parking for the MTCC.  I assumed it was connected to the building.  Where is that one?"

"Well, there are several for the MTCC.  What street was it on?"

I had no idea.  Because of the rain and the lost, all I could remember was wet pavement and the inside of my umbrella. 

In the North building (I was in the South) I remembered there was a concierge.   I thought maybe he would have a map.  I walked 5 blocks indoors back to the concierge.  After 5 minutes and 2 maps, we figured out that I was parked 3 blocks away.  Back out into the rain. 

I got back to the car, drove to the garage, and parked.  I taught my class, walked back to the hotel in the rain, and started again the next morning.

During the lunch hour, I needed to get back to my car.  I asked how to get to the parking deck.  I went down and looked for my car.  I walked the whole deck twice.  No car.  As it turns out, there are two parking decks under the building, and I was parked in the other one.  The security guard tells me that I can't get to the other garage from inside this garage.  I walked outside 3 more blocks in the rain.

I got to the other garage and found my car.  It turns out I was parked directly under my classroom, and that I had gone the extremely long way to class yesterday.  Oh well.  I guess I got my cardio in!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Bloom is something that can be a good thing, or a bad thing.  In knitting, it's definitely a good thing.  Blooming is what they call what happens to a fiber the first time it's laundered after it's made into yarn.  Since this is fiber festival season, this is the time of year when you're most likely to be exposed to yarn in cones, or yarn that hasn't been processed to the point that it has bloomed.  Unbloomed yarn is usually a little cheaper than the same yarn post-bloom due to the step they skipped.

Unbloomed yarn is funny looking.  It's way too thin for the gauge it says it is.  It's extremely dense, making the hanks and cones very heavy.  And sometimes, it's hard to see the color characteristics.  If the yarn is marled, for example, it may not look that way before it has bloomed.

Fibers are shorn from the sheep, then cleaned, carded, plied, and spun.  Most of this is done by machine.  Sometimes there's a dye process involved, and that's also usually done by machine.  I've been in a variety of spinning mills, and although they all seem to handle the process a little bit differently, they all have one thing in common: the machines need to be oiled.

When the fibers are being carded and plied, they move through machinery.  The little fibers that float through the air can make a mess of the gears and belts and cards.  The way the yarn manufacturers manage to keep the fibers from gunking up the works is to treat the machinery with different lubricants at different rates.  As the fibers move through the process, they pick up minute traces of the oils and lubricants.

Here's the kicker.  Because all the fibers are passing through before they've been formed into plies, the oils get inside the yarns.  Each ply, now carrying a little lubricant, gets wound into yarn.  Different yarns have different numbers of plies, different size plies, and different amounts of twist per inch, but one thing remains true about all of them.  They all have machine oils in there.  Most commercial yarn manufacturers cleanse the yarn thoroughly, so this is really only a question in "boutique" yarns, and very small runs of colors or fibers.

This photo is of actual pre- and post-bloom yarn.  When you're at a fiber fest and you see yarn labeled as worsted, and to you it looks like DK or thinner, it's a good time to ask if the fiber has bloomed.  As you can see in the photo, the yarn may open up to more than twice the diameter it was before blooming.  After blooming, it will be softer, warmer, and it will lay better.  So has it bloomed?

What if the answer is "no"?  Loosely wind the yarn into a hank.  Bind the hank in several places with twist ties, or tie it with yarn.  Launder it according to the label directions, or wash it with Soak or Eucalan according to their directions.  Part of the washing thoroughly, of course, is rinsing thoroughly.  Then set the hank out to dry flat.  It may take a day or two, but it's worth it.  Knitting with your yarn before it blooms rarely creates a fiber as beautiful as knitting with it afterwards.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Pictures of Fibery Goodness

I found a disposable camera, and managed to record some of my wonderful NJ trip.  Unfortunately it wasn't a digital camera, so I haven't picked up the photos yet. 

Instead, I thought I'd share some favorite photos from blog posts past, and hope they bring you some joy.  Remember, every doctor will recommend a high fiber diet!


Saturday, October 6, 2012

Ooops, I Did it Again!

Well, here I am typing from the magnificent kitchen of the lovely Inge Spungen, workshop coordinator of the Northern NJ Fiber Festival.  Her happy dog, OP, is pacing happily at my feet.  And what I don't have is my camera.  Zoikes!  I've done this twice this year, and one time that I did bring it, I had the settings all wrong and made nothing but smudgy pictures. (Think impressionist art gone very, very wrong.)

I am headed to CVS, as Inge is sure that they carry disposable digital cameras.  This is imperative so that if I shoot a messy shot, I can just delete it right away. So if I have success, I'll show you the festival.  If I don't, I'll describe it in detail.

But as a teaser, Mink Yarn!  Really!  So soft, and pretty, and light as air.  I'll take a photo of the finished shawl that I was caressing last night, and of the skeined yarn.  It's even reasonably priced, if you compare it to other premium fibers like cashmere and Suri Alpaca.

Okay, I'm off to CVS, and then to set up my classroom.  I'll show you everything when I get back to the kitchen tonight.  (Assuming I find that disposable!)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Crazy Teaching Month

Starting tomorrow with a mini-class on Colorwork Sock Knitting Techniques, I'm teaching like crazy for the next month.  I have 10 classes in 4 cities and two countries in the next two weeks!  And then Rhinebeck.

Why? Because this is when the festivals are!  Many of us who teach and write about knitting marvel at the way our schedules ebb and flow throughout the year.  Late summer and fall are when the largest festivals are usually held (except Medrona and a couple of other notable exceptions), and this is when we all get to see each other as we convene at these large events.  Every weekend is a new event or two.  February, on the other hand, is eerily quiet.

So, my printer and keyboard are getting a real workout.  My dog now barks at me when I pull into the driveway.  My suitcase looks up at me and says "Oh, no, not again!"  And I wonder where I left my shoes.  (Ohio?)

As tiring as this is, I love it!  I love meeting everyone, and hearing all of their wonderful knitting stories.  I love learning from every student.  I love learning about the styles and preferences of each knitting community.  All my fibery friends who I never see at any other times are a real sight for sore eyes. The dyers, spinners, woodworkers (handmade knitting tools), publishers... It's wonderful to share stories and coffee and lots of hugs.

I'll do my best to keep you up to date in photos and stories.  Please be patient with the reality that I don't always have internet service or time or access to my computer during these events, so posts may come at strange intervals.  Please come out and see Colleen and me in person!

Buffalo Knitting Guild, Buffalo, NY - Oct 4
Northern NJ Fiber Festival, East Rutherford, NJ - Oct 6,7
Creativ Festival, Toronto, Ont Canada - Oct 11, 12, 14
Woodstock Ont Fleece Festival, Woodstock Ont Canada, Oct 13
Dutchess County Sheep and Wool Festival, Rhinebeck, NY - Oct 18, 19, 20, 21