dc comics and chocolate milkshakes

I've spent a proportionately large percentage of my life in class...even my extracurricular activities involved being instructed much of the time. As a result, I appreciate efficient and clear teaching; I also feel like I recognize it pretty readily. During my class time at TNNA, I became a huge fan of small projects that demonstrate skills needed to complete larger projects. Now that I'm writing this, I realize that this idea is so simple that it really shouldn't be novel. But it is! There just aren't small projects that correspond to larger, more time-consuming endeavors. Marianne Isager's wristwarmers were functional small projects that went along with her sweaters...above is Cat Bordhi's little...well, thimble? Bowl? Doll hat? It's a funny thing, in any case. It's really cool because it illustrates her heel turn method not once, but TWICE! Then you get to pick up and knit in the round to make a little bowl. How cool is that? Totally useless as an object, but pretty fun to knit. I'm always in favor of useless but educational knitting projects.

So...this ends the TNNA posting material. Spacing it out, it took what felt like a lot of posting to cover everything I learned! What a great experience. I can't say enough how much I like sharing ideas and discussing techniques and projects with other knitters. I always come away so inspired. Farewell, June- the summer continues to speed along.


although i lost my mind

Last weekend I taught a yarn dyeing workshop at Old Village Yarn Shop in Plymouth, MI. It was a beautiful day outside and we had great fun experimenting with colors. We used Wilton Cake Icing Dye (which I've discussed in previous posts), and it's really easy to get super bright colors...but not so easy to get subdued, subtle shading! I'm improving with every try, this is one of my more favorite skeins.

Believe it or not, this actually used a combination of blue, teal, violet, and black. The black is especially unpredictable as it separates into its components pretty readily. As a result, you usually get something approximating black/grey if you're lucky...but more often than not you get purple and teal from it. I wanted to use this to my advantage, so I paired it with colors it naturally separates into.

You can see the bright pink on the string tied to it...yeah, that's out of the black dye as well. That color never appears in my skein (except maybe as an overtone here and there), but it's kind of funny. I'm trying to decide what to use this yarn for, maybe a scarf or mittens? Another random and strange article of clothing? In any case, I can't wait to knit with this!!!


we won't drown in the summer sound

This is a cuff bracelet made of Shibui Merino Worsted, a superwash wool that knits beautifully and is lightly variegated if you get any color other than natural. I used a button I've had hoarded away (I tend to be compulsive about gathering buttons, as anyone will tell you). I got the yarn as a sample at TNNA, it is rather pricey if you buy it retail...so make sure the project is something special. In this case, I think I could knit about 15 bracelets from a skein. Depending on who you ask, this qualifies as a "special" application or is just a terrible waste.

My intention was to use a nautical theme, but I need to do more research on the subject. Really what I'm going to use ultimately is cotton cording from the hardware store and model them after either fisherman's aran sweaters or knotted bracelets (sort of like you would with hemp). This is just a prototype.


just a little bit caught in the middle

Here are some swatches from my Columbus TNNA trip; I took a class with Danish knitwear designer Marianne Isager and these were the swatches I came away with. Marianne's knitting books (Knitting Out of Africa, Japanese Knits) offer inventive garments that are relatively simple yet include techniques that keep the knitting process interesting for more adept knitters. Marianne has designed a series of wristwarmers that correspond to each sweater, so you can try out a given technique before embarking on a whole sweater...but unlike gauge swatching, you'll end up with a finished object. I thought it was a brilliant idea, but unfortunately the patterns for wristwarmers weren't included in the published books.

Unlike the typical knitter, I don't mind swatches...as you can see above, I made lots of them! It feels like all I did was knit swatches and socks in Columbus. Plus lots of ripping! Anyway, swatches above are as follows: left and center, staggered drop stitch pattern- I thought this looked really cool and would make a beautiful scarf or stole. Of course I began knitting said scarf the very next day out of my pink experimental yarn, but decided to rip it out after all. It wasn't what I wanted for that yarn in the end. Then, on the right, a little mitred square. It's from a sweater inspired by the children's fairy tale "The Fir Tree"...so if you look again you can see it has a little tree trunk that starts at the bottom of the square.

I love Marianne's idea of using one inspiration for a series of designs, also the small project that links to a larger one. I came away with tons of ideas for my own knitting, walking away with my head buzzing. And that with very little caffeine!!!


columbus, uh oh


It's been a long time since my last post, and I offer my apologies. I was away in Columbus, Ohio for The National Needlework Association Trade Show and Conference- it was a very exciting opportunity to see all the designers' and distributors' new displays. I also got all kinds of new ideas in classes from Cat Bordhi, Marianne Isager, and the Ravelry team.

The best part about going on a trip is planning your knitting...but even better is when you're going on a trip FOR knitting. I was feeling a little discouraged by my knitting before I left, but luckily that all changed while I was there. Being surrounded by knitters always helps me overcome knitter's block! Shown above is new Trekking sock yarn that arrived at Needlework Unlimited just before the show...we couldn't wait to see what the yarn looked like knitted up and I was happy to oblige! The consensus is that it's sort of animal print looking, I think it's kind of like snakeskin. It's another unusual color combination- pink, brown, and chartreuse/yellow. It's very cool in person. I had conveniently just had a sock class with Cat Bordhi and am using her amazing heel turn that completely trounces my former short row heel.


stay awake to break the habit

It has been a bad knitting week. My Berroco scarf/shawl (We Rarely Practice Discern) was finished last week, holding my attention right on through the not-so-bitter end (which even included crocheting bobbles ALL the way around- and I am a bad, bad crocheter). Rarely do I enjoy a knitting project so thoroughly; though the scarf is very lovely, I've thought about it and I don't think it was just the design that kept me so satisfied. I suspect I've become overwhelmed and needed to knit without purpose or design for a while. Think: meditative knitting, repetitive knitting, mindless knitting. Rectangular scarf? Perfect.

But now, on the eve of my departure to probably the biggest knitting event of my year, I have nothing to knit. Nothing! HELP! I will be at the TNNA trade show in Columbus, Ohio for five days with Needlework Unlimited. If this doesn't provide necessary inspiration, there's no help for me and I'll announce my retirement on Tuesday. A couple days ago, in a zombie-like state, I dug through my stash to find something, anything (muttering "must...have...knitting" to myself). Out of desperation, I coupled a long-stashed yarn (Blue Heron yarns' Metallic Rayon) with a cute pattern (Frock Camisole from Knitting Daily/Interweave Press). I really should have known better than to try and alter patterns in my mind-numbed state, but no, I had opinions and I had changes to be made! It was a rough start- I couldn't come up with a correct stitch count no matter how many times I tried, as a result the stitch markers were never in the right location. After much sighing and gnashing of teeth, I think they're finally right. (Note: this should not have been hard to do.)

I still can't tell you how many stitches are on that needle, my fear is that this will become a remarkably silly (and embarrassing) endeavor. My pathetic attempts at math are out of sight and on the bottom of the coaster in the previous post, next to the Loch Ness Monster. The only good decision in all of this: turning the math coaster over and placing a cup of coffee on it instead. Then all was right with the world.


you should know know know

Monday's knitting quiz: what is this a knitted depiction of? Correct answer gets a prize. I promise.

*No fair if I've already told you! I know who you are and your vote won't count.


waging wars to shake the poet and the beat

In lieu of actual content, I offer you photographs of yarn.

This yarn was purchased with the intention of making a short scarf that tucks through itself, sort of like this. (Actually, that picture is really cute.) So...I began knitting and it turned out to be nothing close to what I had imagined. I've now ripped the whole thing out. Meh. With the colors in this yarn it's just asking to be made into something leaf-inspired, but I just haven't arrived at the right design for it yet. I'm having knitter's block.


come on get higher

Here is my mysterious project that was to combine two very dissimilar yarns: a silk DK (Louisa Harding Grace Hand Dyes) with super chunky wool (Colinette Point 5). I had planned to knit the silk at a very loose gauge and use the wool intermittently, then stretch the whole thing over a painted canvas. Well...I started knitting and was happy; I painted the canvas and was REALLY happy; then I tried to put the two together and it was just too much. The parts were so much better than the whole, so I'm scrapping the thing temporarily at least. I'm totally okay with it, though- I have yarn I can use for another project and I have a sweet canvas to hang on my wall. Another win-win.

People tell me all the time that they're not creative, that they're not good at mixing colors...the truth is, I don't think of myself as being particularly remarkable with the whole thing either. One of the best lessons I ever learned in knitting was that there are no rules. Hear that? NO RULES. I mean, there are guidelines (sort of like the pirate's rules, for those of you who like Pirates of the Caribbean). My thinking is that you should know "rules" (regarding gauge, needle sizing, fiber behavior) so that you know how to break them properly; or if not to break them exactly, at least where to bend them. Instead of saying no to a combination that you THINK would be bad, why not try it? That's how I arrived at my acid green/cerulean/violet combination above...and it works. Not everyone might like it and that's okay, just as long as you're not prohibiting yourself from taking chances that could make you happy.

That all being said, I'm going to go find a cup of coffee and a new knitting project. And if that means combining ridiculous colors and/or paint, all the better. You can chalk this whole post up to caffeine in my bloodstream if it helps too!