Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Fall 2010 classes

What have I been doing for all this time? Well, I've been working on the classes that I'll be teaching at Spirit Work for the coming fall and winter. Classes are posted on the shop's website, and as far as I know there are still openings in all of them.

This season there are two sweater classes - a Traditional Gansey pullover which I should clarify as being traditionally constructed out of a specified worsted weight yarn, rather than the fine 5-ply British gansey yarn, in the interest of students being able to finish the sweater or close to it by the end of class!

The other sweater class is in collaboration with my fellow knitting teacher, Jeannine, and is an Aran made from the bottom up with the student's choice of raglan or modified drop-shoulders, cardigan or pullover in a specified worsted-weight yarn. While Jeannine and I both love making top-down saddle-shoulder Arans, we also like to mix things up! ;)

It's been a couple of years since I last taught a vest class and have a beauty planned for this year. The Classic Vest is the basic V-neck, cardigan-style, stockinette stitch vest in a specified tweed yarn. Depending on their skill level and what they want to do, students have the choice of adding a cable panel going up and down at the shoulder, and if needed for the fuller-figured, short-row bust darts.

Colorwork mittens are always popular. Simple Two Color Mittens are again being offered, and there is a new one, the Tofta Gauntlet Mitten, also offered.

A completely new project for me is the Half-Glove. These are not fingerless mitt(en)s, but are actual gloves with the fingers ending just below the first joint, so they will be warm and should stay put. If they so choose, students could make them as regular gloves too. I'm rather pleased with them myself, and have been thinking that they'd be nice for gift-giving.

Photos have been taken of most of these items and should be up on the shop website soon.

About Cottage Craft

About Cottage Craft yarns which I used for the Blue Spruce Aran, caveat emptor or buyer beware. There have been problems with people placing orders and not getting them or having to wait for MONTHS. This is not an acceptable situation for most of us knitters because when we order something, we usually have a particular project in mind and want to get started on it.

So instead of ordering yarn from Cottage Craft, I highly recommend ordering from Briggs & Little. The Regal line of yarn is the EXACT same yarn as CC's 2-ply, and I'm as certain as I can be that Briggs & Little is the manufacturer of the yarn. If you go to Briggs & Little's website, you can request color cards for all of their lines of yarn via email. The price may be a bit higher than CC, but what good does it do to save money on something that never comes?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Blue Spruce Aran

The Grape Trellis cardigan isn’t quite done, but it was getting to the point where I needed a rest from it, so I started another Top-Down Saddle Shoulder Aran – yes, I know I’m crazy. What can I say, sometimes I just need to start something new while I’m inspired. The new one will be a pullover out of Cottage Craft 2-ply in Blue Spruce.

The saddle cable is a 3-rib lattice, which I think you can see has been mirror-imaged for symmetry. The two major cable patterns in the body are out of Annie Maloney’s book, The Cable Knitter’s Guide. The center cable is #66, and the cables going down from the shoulder are #22. These are a bit more complicated, so I do have to pay attention to what I’m doing, but I love how they look.

The cable layout from left to right is:
Wave of Honey (or Little Chain)
Eccentric cable
Wave of Honey
Little Twist Cable (Barbara Walker’s first treasury)
Little Twist
Wave of Honey
Wave of Honey

When designing with cables, I like to make them so that the ones on the right, lean to the right, and the ones on the left, lean to the left when seen on the body. This creates a V-effect which I think is flattering to the figure by emphasizing the shoulders and de-emphasizing the waist. This photo shows them as they were knit. The sweater is knit from the top down so the photo is upside down from the way the finished garment will be worn.

I've also started swatching for a cabled vest, which I hope to start shortly. Obviously I don't worry about having more than one project going, because sometimes I feel like working on one thing, and other times like working on something else. I don't want to confine myself to just one project, losing whatever inspiration or idea I might have for another when it strikes! ;)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Snowstar Gauntlet Mitten

The Snowstar Mitten is now done, and I'm rather pleased with how it turned out. I tried a new yarn, Lanaloft from Brown Sheep. It's a variegated wool and is the background or main color in the mitten. The contrast color is a variegated monotone of Lamb's Pride.
When using two variegated yarns for colorwork, one must be very careful to NOT match a color common to both colors being used or you can lose the patterning.
As I mentioned before, this mitten evolved rather quickly, and I really enjoyed doing it. It starts out with a few rounds of the contrast color in purl at the edge, then goes into the colorwork. The gauntlet on this mitten is a bit longer than on the first gauntleted mitten I did, and I was concerned about getting low on the Lanaloft since the skein is only 100 grams and therefore has less yardage than 4 oz of Lamb's Pride, but I weighed the skein both before and after making the first mitten, and I didn't use more than half of it. The only problem might be if someone wanted to make a larger size, then they might need another skein of Lanaloft in the main color just in case.
This time I tried shaping the mitten tip differently, and I'm very pleased with the way it turned out. Anna Zilboorg's book, Magnificent Mittens & Socks, has a couple of mittens where the mitten tip shaping occurs along the sides of a central band on the back and palm of the hand. The end result is a nicely rounded mitten tip. Since I make mittens from the cuff up rather than from the tip down like Anna, my mitten is finished with kitchener stitch to keep the tip smooth.
Due to the colorwork pattern, the handout directions will be sized for adults only, which is the case for the Ram's Horn mitten as well.
There are two sessions of the Snowstar Gauntlet Mitten class. One is on Wednesdays, starting 1/13, and the other is on Sundays, starting 1/24. There is only one session of the Ram's Horn Mitten class, starting on 1/24 also. The Ram's Horn class precedes the Snowstar, so folks can have a whole afternoon of mittens if they want! ;) Class information is at the Spirit Work website.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ram's Horn Mitten

Here it is at last - the Ram's Horn Mitten. When I first started designing it, I had all kinds of wonderful ideas for having a different colorwork pattern on the palm than on the back of the hand, and playing around with having the background color on one side become the foreground color on the other. Unfortunately when working on it, I decided that it looked unbalanced, so will have to save that idea for another mitten. Although the final design is more simple than I had originally envisioned, I am pleased with it, and it should be interesting for students.

The cuff is just knit 2/purl 2 rib. As with the Scandinavian Gauntlet Mitten, the thumb is a different pattern than the hand, and the thumb tip decreases are done to maintain the colorwork pattern. Both the thumb tip and the fingertip are finished by having the stitches drawn up tight, which looks neat when seen from the top of the tips.

This mitten is a good example of experimenting with Color Dominance. Whichever yarn is carried below the other, is pushed out while the other recedes. You can see what I mean where the cream color stitch line recedes between the thumb and hand.

This class is now open for enrollment at Spirit Work. Click on "Classes & Events", then click on my classes.

I'm also teaching an easier mitten class, Two Color Mittens. Students will have their choice of either Salt & Pepper or One on One Stripes. Both of these colorwork patterns are made of 1 stitch light and 1 stitch dark repeated around. Whether done in an even or an uneven number, determines which pattern is produced. The class handout includes directions for both mittens in a full range of sizes from small child to extra-large adult.

Currently I am finishing up the Snowstar Gauntlet Mitten, and will be posting about it with a photo. The mitten shaping is like the Scandinavian Gauntlet Mitten, but the Snowstar gauntlet is longer and has colorwork. Amazingly I thought the Snowstar would go slower and the Ram's Horn faster during the design process, but the opposite has turned out to be the case!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Scandinavian Gauntlet Mittens

For winter I have a red and black reversible down jacket that I haven't gotten as much use out of as I might wish, because of a problem I didn't foresee when I bought it. The sleeves don't have any inner cuffs to keep cold air out!
Obviously this situation called for some corrective action, so I've just designed a mitten with a flaring cuff or a gauntlet. Now I when I wear the jacket, I can put the mitten cuffs over my sweater sleeves inside the jacket sleeves, and they should do the job.
The mitten starts out with a 2-color cast-on, then has 2 rounds of a 2-color twined purl edging. The rest of the gauntlet is in one color.

When I was looking for mitten ideas, I found a mitten shape in Knitting in the Nordic Tradition by Vibeke Lind, where supposedly the gauntlet had been done in one color on the same size needle as used for the colorwork in the hand and it pulled in sufficiently to work. That was the theory at least.

In practice however, I found that I had to decrease about 1/8 of the stitches, and go down to a smaller needle to make K1, K1tbl/P2 ribbing for 1” at the wrist. Then I went back to the original needle size for the colorwork starting with the fewer stitches.

Whenever I design something, it seems I have to try making at least some part of it in a couple different ways, which was the case for the thumb gore. I finally settled on having a “seamline” in the main color along the sides of the gore because it looked so much better than trying to do a gore in the same pattern as the hand. I also decided that doing the thumb in just Salt & Pepper looked better.

Usually when I finish off the mitten tip, I like to decrease equally all the way around, staggering the decreases, but decided that this one looked neater if the decreases were paired along the sides and the tip was kitchenered. I liked the colorwork and wanted to maintain the pattern as much as possible.
I'm rather happy with how the mitten turned out! So happy in fact that it's going to be class at Spirit Work Knitting & Designs. For information go to the Spirit Work website, click on "Classes & Events", then click on my classes. The information should be up shortly. The class will run on alternate Wednesday evenings, from October 14 through November 18, 2009, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Hope to see you there!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

TDSS Aran: Cables flowing into ribbing

I've been working on my Top-Down Saddle-Shoulder Aran cardigan. As I was heading my way on down the sleeve towards the cuff, I was wondering what I was going to do when I got there. I've always admired sweaters where the cable patterns flow into the ribbing, and I wanted to somehow make it happen. Would I have to put the stitches on hold and come back to it later when I had figured it out?
Fortunately I was inspired just when I needed to be while spending an afternoon in the fresh air and sun a week ago with a pair of knitting friends, and all of the sleeve tapering decreases were done.
The 14-stitch wide Aran Braid going down the center of the sleeve didn't have enough elasticity widthwise to continue downwards in to ribbing, but if I made it narrower - only 6 stitches wide - it should be stretchier than the 14-st braid. So I tried that, changing the 4 sts on either side of it to 2 purls and a 2-st cable crossing every 4 rows. Normally I'd expect to have to decrease stitches below a cable, but it seems to work OK without doing so since I went down 1.0 mm in needle size and have the purl sts in there. The 2-st Snakey or Wavy cables continue down as do the 4-st Rope cables, and the Rice Stitch filler becomes knit 2/purl 2 rib. I'm rather happy with how it turned out.
Currently I'm working on the other sleeve, and am planning an evening of DVD watching and knitting. I want to hurry up and get it done so I can move on to my next project which is the Aran Diamond Vest.
This too is another class sample, but I'm eager to work on it now that I have the yarn for it. For years I have wanted wheat/light tan heather vest because it would go with so many fall clothes. Twice I've had problems with the yarn I've used for just plain stockinette vests.
One time I used some single-ply 100% wool wheat tweed on a cone that still had the spinning oil in it. The yarn bloomed when the vest was washed and blocked but unexpectedly lost some length. From that experience I learned that I should have skeined the yarn off the cone and washed it first.
Another time I used some wool that smelled and felt oily in the balls. After washing and blocking it still felt funny unfortunately. Since I had had a successful attempt at removing the oiliness from another yarn, this was a big disappointment. But, hey live and learn, right?