Friday, December 21, 2012

Announcing our Next KAL.

photo (c) shibui
Yes, it's official. We are going to knit Shibui Mix No. 9 for our next Knit-along. It's an infinity scarf, knit length-wise and then joined - after a single twist - with a 3-needle bind-off. The pattern stitch is a variation of seed stitch, which, in my book is the perfect social project. Really, it's the kind of project that demands company and conversation!

Listening to that cold north wind howl outside my kitchen window, reminds me this is also the perfect project to wear. ...long and loose, or doubled around your neck, or pulled up to create a hood.

The pattern suggests Shibui Staccato and Silk Cloud - one strand of each held together. You'll need 5 skeins of Staccato and 3 of Silk Cloud (or 1,000 yards of any DK-weight yarn).  One of the nice things about Shibui is that the different yarns come in the same colorways.

How about pink?
colorway nude
or green?
colorway apple

or teal?
colorway fjord
We'll be casting on (with a provisional cast-on - here's my favorite) two weeks from today. That's Friday, January 4, 2013 around 2pm.

Hope you'll join us!
I'm ready...once I spend some time with the ball-winder!

Friday, December 14, 2012

12 Lessons from the Yellow Table.

I heard an interesting bit on the latest Yarniacs podcast about "knitting lessons learned in 2012". It got me thinking about my knitting classes, and the lessons we've learned this year.

And then dear friend and former student Martha gave me this.
yes, there are even Starbucks mugs on the table!
That, my good readers, is how blog posts are born!

1. Any tools that help you get your knitting right are OK - in fact highly encouraged - to use. A few of my favorite tools include row counters (I still use the old fashioned kind that sits on my needle or on my knitting), locking stitch markers (for example to remember where you started waist shaping),  regular markers to keep your lace or cables or other patterned stitches on track, highlight tape to keep up with a chart, and a colored pen (see number 7 below).

2. If you're knitting with hand-dyed yarn, alternate skeins. Always. Hand-dyed yarns include everything from Madelinetosh, Malabrigo, Swan's Island, and quite a few others. Yes, it can be a pain, but it's the only way to ensure you don't end up with noticeable color differences in your finished project.

3. If you're knitting something that needs to fit, swatch! You should also swatch if you're worried about having enough yarn to finish the project. And if you're knitting with fibers that aren't super wash, you should wet-block that swatch to see what it will really look like. Most yarns change when they get wet and the only way to tell how your yarn will behave wet is to try it!

4. Substitute yarns based on the fiber content and gauge of the suggested yarn, not the pattern. We're seeing a lot of newer patterns knit at a very loose gauge (for example, a fingering weight yarn like Madelinetosh Light knit at a DK or sport-weight gauge) - if you substitute based on the pattern gauge, you won't get the same drape and "look". Ravelry's yarn database is a great tool to lookup the suggested yarn.

5. If you buy yarn before you're ready to knit the project, put a copy of the pattern into the bag or enter the project into Ravelry. It only seems like you couldn't possibly forget what you intended to  knit with that yarn!

6. If you're knitting from a pattern that was published in a book or a magazine or a stand-alone leaflet, be sure to check for errata before you start. You can google the pattern name and "errata" or you can look up the pattern on Ravelry. Typically, patterns that you purchase through Ravelry (that are delivered as pdf downloads to print) are corrected as the designer discovers issues and errata isn't a problem.

7. Make notes. I start each project with a fresh copy of the pattern (it is ok to copy a pattern for personal use) so I can write all over it. I make notes about row counts (for example, that I worked 12 rows of ribbing on the first sleeve so I can make the second sleeve match it), about where I am - this is especially important if I set the project aside for even a few days, and about modifications I make. When I finish the project, I file these notes for future reference.

8. When you make a copy of the pattern, be sure you get it all - top, bottom, left, right.

9. Read the pattern all the way through before you start. Keep reading as you go. Most of my ripping comes from not following the pattern because I didn't read it!

10. Finishing is a very important step to having a project that looks great. It's often overlooked because hey, the knitting is done. But really, weaving in ends, seaming, sewing on buttons, and blocking are key to fit and wearability. (and if you can't bear to do this step, we have a wonderful finisher, Betty Bahl - just ask the shop staff and we'll get you in touch with her).

11. If you don't like the project while you're knitting it, you probably won't like it any better once it's done. Cut your losses. Rip and move on. (really, it's ok).

12. Know your limits. Are you knitting a complicated lace pattern? maybe you shouldn't work on that while you're chatting with your friends or after a long hard day of work. This is one of the reasons I have multiple projects going at one time. There is always something social, something portable, something challenging (and something that goes with wine!).

What lessons have you learned this year? We'd love to hear!
the "real" yellow table... in action during my most recent class

Friday, December 7, 2012

Another New Addition.

This week, we're highlighting the newest addition to our Malabrigo wall, Rastita (say it out loud - it's fun! or maybe I've just had one too many cups of coffee already?!).

Think of it as the sassy younger sister of Rasta*. Same fabulous colors, same slightly felted single ply 100% merino wool construction, but a sport to dk-weight. The yarn suggests 20-22 stitches over four inches on a size 6-7 needle. And it comes in a generous 310 yard skein. That single ply knits up super soft and squishy and warm...and calls out for a hat or a cowl.

By now you can probably guess I'm going to suggest the Honey Cowl . Really, it's the best one I know to show off beautifully variegated colorways. Cast on 220 stitches on a size 6 needle for a cowl about 40"+ inches around and 7-8" wide... perfect for wrapping twice and keeping someone's neck toasty warm.

Or cast on half that many stitches and make a hat with the leftover yarn. The Madhu Hat is a free pattern on Ravelry specifically designed for Rastita; and it features that same honeycomb slipped stitch pattern as the Honey Cowl. A single skein would make a great matching set!

With the tone on tone colorways, we love the Wurm Hat , another free pattern on Ravelry. This one features alternating "stripes" of stockinette and reverse stockinette that is perfect for soft squishy yarns. Check out the finished projects from two of our favorite designers, Olga Jazzy and Assemblage (Kirsten Johnstone) to see what we mean.

If you're not tempted yet, how about one last photo!

*if you're not sure you've got time to tackle a 200-300 yard project right now, there is plenty of Rasta on that wall. I spotted at least a half dozen Rasta cowls on the needles Wednesday afternoon. This cowl takes just one 90-yard skein. Cast on 59-ish stitches (you need an odd number) on a size 15 or size 17 24" circular needle. Give the stitches a full twist before you join and work k1, p1 until you've got a few yards of yarn left. Bind off. Enjoy!