Monday, April 29, 2013
1. A good shop doesn't have a clubby or clique-y feel to it. Ever felt like an outsider at a "knit night" or while wandering around a shop where a group of shop regulars is socializing (and ignoring other customers)? In a good shop, everyone is welcomed warmly, perhaps offered a cup of tea, and engaged in conversation. The staff make you feel that they are genuinely interested in you and what you're doing.
2. A good shop carries lines of yarn in their entirety. Unfortunately, more shops than I would like to mention carry just three or four colours of a type of yarn, and they're usually based on the owner's idiosyncratic tastes. Don't care for 3 shades of orange? Go somewhere else!
3. Good sales people never lie or mislead. You want a double knitting weight of cotton? "Here," says the young woman behind the counter, "this skein is labelled worsted weight, but it'll be just fine for your project." Or, " this ball is a different dye lot, but you'd never be able to tell." This behaviour is even worse when the misleading occurs over the telephone, resulting in a wasted trip to the shop.
4. Great yarn shops carry classic, reasonably priced yarns in sweater quantities. I don't know if it is the trend toward making socks and shawls, but more and more shops seem to specialize in $28 skeins of hand-dyed precious fibre and fewer and fewer carry complete lines of "workhorse" yarns. If you knit a lot of sweaters, there's no way you can feed your habit with super-expensive fibre, not to mention the fact that classic yarns just wear better over time. My personal limit is around $100 for a good sweater, and I rarely come close to spending that.
5. This last point is my own addition. I prefer yarn shops run by owners who are interested in knitting design and designers. You'd be surprised at the number of owners who have absolutely no interest in anything beyond selling pattern books from the big distributors and the yarn specified in those patterns. If a customer shows up with a pattern off the internet, woe betide them. Smart shop owners understand that there's more money to be made from selling yarn than patterns. They may even provide access to a computer to check on yarn requirements or view other knitters' projects on Ravelry. A really smart shop owner supports local designers, with sweater samples labelled with suggested yarns from the shop. Hey owners, we're a great resource!
Sunday, April 28, 2013
There are rules to follow for a successful Frolic:
1. Wear comfortable shoes,
2. Resist the urge to wear your most beautiful knits; it's hot in there with all those knitters milling around,
3. Bring only cash; the temptation to overspend is strong and urgent,
4. When your shopping bag is full, it's time to quit, especially if you want VIA Rail to let you back on board without going over your carry-on limit.
It appeared to me that everyone this year had jumped onto the hand-dyed superwash merino sock yarn bandwagon. It was slightly disappointing that so many booths were devoted to this product. Variety is the spice of life and all that. I would like to have seen more non-superwash interesting sweater yarns spun in Canada. Wellington Fibres stood out for me as a company with rather more interesting offerings. I bought this mohair/wool blend from them.
I enjoyed the Sheep's Ahoy booth with its display of Kate Davies' finished knits and kits. (I might have purchased a tiny one.) Also, I bought a little package of BFL/silk for spinning from Turtlepurl. After some tea with Deb Gemmell, when her teaching was done, I headed out on the bus bound for the Eglinton subway station and eventually the train station. Back home before 10:00 p.m.
One of the best things about such days is simply meeting up with other enthusiastic knitters. On the bus just referred to I sat next to two ladies also returning from the Frolic, only to discover that we have very similar yarn tastes. A discussion of yarn shops ensued, which will result in tomorrow's blog post (what makes a great yarn store). We have since friended each other on Ravelry. Isn't the internet great?
No recipe this week, for obvious reasons. (What, you expect me to take a train, attend the Frolic, chat with knitters, buy yarn AND think about food, let alone cooking?)
Thursday, April 25, 2013
Further Encounters with I-cord http://chezlizzie.blogspot.com/2019/04/further-encounters-with-i-cord.html
I-cord Edges in Stocking Stitch https://chezlizzie.blogspot.com/2019/03/making-something-good-even-better.html
Blocking Work-in-Progress https://chezlizzie.blogspot.com/2013/10/blocking-in-progress.html
Decreasing into Cables https://chezlizzie.blogspot.com/2017/09/tutorial-decreasing-into-cables.html
When Grafting Underarms Isn't Quite Right https://chezlizzie.blogspot.com/2019/07/when-underarm-grafting-isnt-quite-right.html
Sewn Bind Off http://chezlizzie.blogspot.ca/2015/09/tutorial-sewn-bind-off.html
Making Polymer Clay Buttons http://chezlizzie.blogspot.ca/2017/03/tutorial-making-polymer-clay-buttons.html
Top-down Pocket Insertion http://chezlizzie.blogspot.ca/2017/03/tutorial-top-down-pocket-insertion.html
A Compendium of Spinning Posts and Other Random Spinning Links http://chezlizzie.blogspot.ca/2015/10/a-compendium-of-spinning-posts-and.html
Knitting Up Front Bands on a Steeked Cardigan http://chezlizzie.blogspot.ca/2017/01/steeking-made-easy-buttonband.html
Preparing and Cutting a Sewn Steek http://chezlizzie.blogspot.ca/2017/01/handle-with-care-anatomy-of-steeking.html
Colour Theory in Fairisle Knitting http://chezlizzie.blogspot.ca/2016/05/colllur.html
A New All-in-One Shawl Collar http: http://chezlizzie.blogspot.ca/2016/10/tutorial-new-all-in-one-shawl-collar.html
Grafting or Three Needle Bind Off? http://chezlizzie.blogspot.ca/2013/06/grafting-or-three-needle-bind-off-how.html
Cabling without a Cable Needle: http://chezlizzie.blogspot.ca/2016/02/tutorial-cabling-without-cable-needle.html.
Dyeing with Tea: http://chezlizzie.blogspot.ca/2015/10/tea-party-dyeing-wool-with-tea.html.
Perfect Picots: http://chezlizzie.blogspot.ca/2015/07/tutorial-perfect-picots.html
Closing the Thumb Gap: http://chezlizzie.blogspot.ca/2015/02/tutorial-closing-thumb-gap.html
Knitting with dpns: Avoiding Ladders: https://chezlizzie.blogspot.com/2014/09/knitting-with-dpns-how-i-avoid-laddering.html
Yarn Overs: Getting Over the Confusion: http://chezlizzie.blogspot.ca/2015/02/tutorial-yarn-overs-getting-over.html
Ridgefield: Attaching I-cord: http://chezlizzie.blogspot.ca/2014/09/tutorial-attaching-i-cord-edging-to_9.html.
RYO -- A Different Kind of Increase http://chezlizzie.blogspot.ca/2014/09/designing-claires-gloves-different-kind.html.
Provisional Cast-Ons Part Two: The Crochet Chain Cast-On http://chezlizzie.blogspot.ca/2014/06/provisional-cast-ons-part-two-crochet.html.
The Cable Cast-On (With a Wrinkle) http://chezlizzie.blogspot.ca/2014/07/the-cable-cast-on-with-wrinkle.html
Picking Up from a Provisional Cast-On http://chezlizzie.blogspot.ca/2014/03/tutorial-picking-up-from-provisional.html
Provsional Cast-Ons Part One: The Crochet Cast-On http://chezlizzie.blogspot.ca/2013/12/tutorial-crochet-cast-on.html
How to Graft Underarms http://chezlizzie.blogspot.ca/2013/07/how-to-graft-underarms.html
Stranded Knitting: One Hand or Two? http://chezlizzie.blogspot.ca/2013/04/stranded-knitting-one-hand-or-two.html
How I Like to Spin http://chezlizzie.blogspot.ca/2013/04/how-i-like-to-spin.html
The Perpendicular Join http://chezlizzie.blogspot.ca/2013/03/tutorialthe-perpendicular-join.html
Picking Up http://chezlizzie.blogspot.ca/2013/03/tutorial-picking-up.html
The Backward Loop Increase: Underrated and Underused http://chezlizzie.blogspot.ca/2013/02/the-backward-loop-increase-underrated.html
Shawl Collar Tutorial http://chezlizzie.blogspot.ca/2013/01/shawl-collar-tutorial.html
In the Knit Lab: Adventures with Bobbles, Part 1 http://chezlizzie.blogspot.ca/2012/10/in-knit-lab-adventures-with-bobbles.html
In the Knit Lab: Adventures with Bobbles, Part 2 http://chezlizzie.blogspot.ca/2012/10/in-knit-lab-adventures-with-bobbles_4.html
Trellis: Decreasing in Fair Isle http://chezlizzie.blogspot.ca/2012/09/trellis-decreasing-in-fair-isle-knitting.html
Trellis: Steek and I-Cord Tutorial http://chezlizzie.blogspot.ca/2012/09/trellis-steek-and-i-cord-tutorial.html
Of Buttons and Buttonholes http://chezlizzie.blogspot.ca/2012/07/of-buttons-and-buttonholes.html
Finessing Brookline http://chezlizzie.blogspot.ca/2012/04/finessing-brookline.html
Tidying Up [Steeks] http://chezlizzie.blogspot.ca/2012/02/tidying-up.html
Look Ma, No Blips [in I-Cord] http://chezlizzie.blogspot.ca/2012/02/blip-less-i-cord.html
A Little Rule Breaking [I-Cord Edging for Sandridge] http://chezlizzie.blogspot.ca/2011/09/little-rule-breaking.html
Sandridge: The Knitty Gritty of Raglan Alterations http://chezlizzie.blogspot.ca/2011/09/sandridge-knitty-gritty-of-raglan.html
The No Sweat Guide to Gauge http://chezlizzie.blogspot.ca/2011/08/no-sweat-guide-to-gauge.html
How to Make [Crochet] Button Loops http://chezlizzie.blogspot.ca/2011/08/button-loops.html
Seam Stitches http://chezlizzie.blogspot.ca/2011/05/seam-stitches.html
CDD [Centred Double Decrease] http://chezlizzie.blogspot.ca/2011/04/cdd.html
All Zipped Up http://chezlizzie.blogspot.ca/2010/11/all-zipped-up.html
Sandridge: The Feminine Version (Helpful Hints) http://chezlizzie.blogspot.ca/2010/10/sandridge-feminine-version-helpful.html
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
A good starting place for learning stranded knitting is the 2-handed method advocated by Elizabeth Zimmermann. Of course, it requires that you master knitting with both right and left hands first. No need to purl, thank goodness, because you can do all the work in the round, with the right side facing and use steeks to open up your tube at the end. A good demonstration of two-handed knitting can be found here. (Note that I don't advocate weaving in every second stitch as shown. Everything else here is superb.) There are a couple of advantages to the 2-handed approach:
1. The 2 strands of wool come from either side and are never in danger of entanglement. If you wind a couple of centre-pull balls, either by hand or with a wool-winder, then the balls can sit on the floor at your feet, one on either side and the knitting becomes smooth and efficient.
2. With this method it is easy to weave in the yarn that is being carried in back. Like Meg Swansen, I recommend that you carry nothing over an inch, so at a gauge of 5 sts per inch, you could comfortably carry the back strand over 5 stitches.
Two-handed fair isle is what I do most of the time when working on a larger circular needle. I knitted the "Trelllis Waistcoat" this way.
Eventually I progressed to 1-handed stranded knitting. Many knitters, like Meg Swansen, do this all with the left hand.Since I am predominantly a right-handed knitter who holds my needles underhanded in a sort of pencil grip, I use my right hand for one-handed stranded knitting. Here's how I strand the wool around my fingers:
Note that the two colours are never twisted around each other; the pale green always travels under the navy blue. It is still possible to weave in the carried colour, but not quite as simple for beginners to master.
Which approach do I prefer? As mentioned above, I tend to use the 2-handed technique with projects on larger circulars. However, when I work on dpns, or when working a round with the colours alternating every stitch (as above), I prefer the one-handed method. This week, that is. Knitter's choice, as always!
Saturday, April 20, 2013
Although it is a stalk, rhubarb is treated as a tart fruit. The best tasting has stalks the colour of ruby red grapefruit. BTY, there is also an ornamental variety with ginormous leaves, which is amazingly attractive, if you happen to have the space for it. The regular variety can be made into jams (rhubarb-ginger is wonderful on scones), pies, or eaten stewed. In our household, we prefer plain rhubarb pies, without the often-added strawberries. Today, I'm going to explain how to make the stewed version. Warm stewed rhubarb is right up there with other simple, but heavenly tastes, like warm homemade applesauce.
P.S. Just got back from my regular Saturday morning trip to the market. Here's part of my haul:
leeks and parsnips. I passed this forsythia bush on my way there.
As you can see, it's only in the earliest stages of budding. In a normal year, it would be done and almost into full leaf. Sigh. No rhubarb in sight for a while, I guess.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
The written pattern isn't available quite yet (I first have to finish up a project for a fall publication), but here are some photos taken today a few minutes walk from our front door at the Kingston Yacht Club. Kingston was the site of the sailing events in the 1976 Olympics. The Olympic Harbour is a 15 minute walk from the Yacht Club, but the point remains that, even though we are far from the ocean, Lake Ontario is nothing less than an inland sea and the whole area has a strong maritime feel. We felt a watery location was definitely in order for Zora.
Can you catch the cuff detail? This design is an offshoot of "Wakefield", with the same silhouette, and I wanted to retain some cuff detail.
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
That said, there's still one small patch of snow--see it under the trees? Not quite time to put away the woollen socks and gloves, even though it's the second half of April...
Friday, April 12, 2013
|Grape vines in back garden.|
|Compost bin sealed shut.|
I wasn't in the mood to work on my project for publication. The day was cold, grey, and miserable, and I was angry, depressed, and miserable. What to do?
Here's my 6-step self-help programme:
1. Make a fire in the fireplace. Always brightens a cold, wet day.
2. Add a half hour of baroque music.
3. Drink a large mug of strong, hot tea.
4. Notice that Isabel had changed to a sweater made entirely by herself.
It's Maree, by Julia Trice from Twist Collective. Isabel did all the calculations to work out the adjustments for her size without any input from me. This is Isabel, computer geek, not knitwear model. I'm fond of both versions.
5. Don't knit. Spin something in jewel colours.
6. Make tortiere for dinner. OK, so this is traditionally served at Xmas, and we hardly ever eat red meat, but if ever a day called for something out of the ordinary, this is it.
BTW, when we were living in Washington, DC, we almost never ran into meat pies, whereas they're a staple here. Are meat pies more a Canadian thing? Thoughts?
Thursday, April 11, 2013
So, with the grocery shopping done and with some logs ready at the fireplace, I'm finishing up part of a sample to go for photography for a Fall 2013 publication. Just so you know, designers don't get to choose the yarn or the colour for their own designs when they're published. I guess I got lucky this time. One of the colours is moss green, same as my eyes. I can look forward to wearing this sometime in the future.
Alas, it looks like grey in this photo. So hard to get colours, especially blue and green, to come out accurately!
Last week I went on a little shopping expedition to Kingston's west end and also up to Westport. I picked up a couple of books along the way.
Now, I don't buy a lot of knitting books, and when I do they're more likely to be technique books rather than project books, but "Knits at Home" is definitely in the latter category. I'm a sucker for photos of minimally decorated rustic but sophisticated rooms in neutral-coloured wools. Just fell in love with this. And it features lacy curtains, wall hangings, carpets--not just the usual cushions and afghans. The only dark cloud hovering in the background? Cost. The bed throw near the beginning of the book takes FORTY balls of Rowan Big Wool. Wondering how much that might set you back? Well, on WEBS, I found that Rowan Big Wool goes for US$15.95. Now, multiply that by 40 and you get...US$638. Ouch!! For Canadians, add HST (value-added tax) and duties and...just don't go there.
The second book, "Circular Knitting Workshop", is a real gem. There's stuff in here even for experienced circular knitters like me, and I really love the chapter on socks with round heels and toes, as well as all the details of jogless knitting in garter stitch.
What else did I buy? A cute linen jumper/dress from Cut Loose (my fave clothing company) in a bright periwinkle print that looks terrific with my alpaca Perth Cardi and can be worn year round in different ways, and a stand-alone mirror for our second-floor hallway. It seems we have a knack for purchasing homes with no floor-length mirrors. In the previous house that was solved by sticking an inexpensive Home Depot mirror onto the back of the bathroom door. Our current 3-storey limestone house has the feel of a London townhouse and called for a more gracious (and expensive) fix.
Here it is, complete with Bill's clutter in the background, including the last box in the house still to be unpacked. Just looked out the window. No precip yet. Maybe it won't come.
Monday, April 8, 2013
A sophisticated spinner would undo the big braid and separate the long length of fibre into two or more long lengths with the goal of spinning graduated colour singles. Not me. First I weigh the whole thing so that I'll know when I've spun half ( I want to spin two bobbins of singles and then ply them together.) Then I pull off a handful of the fibre from one end. This fibre is a little matted (probably from the dye process), so then I tease it apart into a sort of thin square, opening up the matted bits, like this.
I do it on my lap, but here you see it held up to the window. Then, I fold the square/rectangle in half,
and gently pull out a thick rope of roving from the top of the fold.
Finally, I wind the roving I've created around my wrist, ready for spinning.
The result isn't a carefully graduated set of colour changes, but rather a cloud of softly blended colour. I like it. A lot.
Saturday, April 6, 2013
Bill bought me a book from the sale table of our local Chapters book store.
|From the front.|
|From the back; look Ma, no sewing!|