It’s been a crazy month, and I’m sitting in a hotel room in Chicago at Vogue Knitting Live (more on that later), and I saw my file of wonderful Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool pictures and realized . . . oh yeah, I was going to post those.
Since I’m 15 hours of teaching deep, with six more to go, and I can barely keep my eyes open, I’m just going to post some pretty pictures and say this . . . if you’ve never been to Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool, seriously, go. It’s always the third weekend in October, the sky is always blue, the leaves are always perfect, the sheep are always adorable, the food is always great and the yarn . . . well the yarn is . . . YARN!
And now . . . onto the sheep. Road trip to
Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool
Goodbye for now, see you soon sheepies!
New Online Knitting Class : Circular Knitting!
So, I feel I can let the “cat out of the bag”, since it’s been announced . . . I’ve got a new video class coming out!!! I’m really happy with how it came out, and I hope you all join me.
It will launch in November on Annie’s.com, and it’s called Circular Knitting Essentials.
We work four projects and learn circular knitting, double pointed needles, magic loop, 2 circs, and 2 at a time on magic loop and two circs, as well as a billion tips and tricks. You know me, I can’t resist tossing in bunches of knitting extras, so there are all sorts of fun bonuses (including some cool fixes tips).
If you want a free taste of teaching fun, then join me for the free KAL on Creative Knitting website. We’re doing my Fan the Flames Cowl, and it’s packed with “beyond the pattern” tips with video tutorials, photos and more. Click here for a peek at what I’ll be teaching. It will start tomorrow – Oct. 17th
Is it possible to be homesick for a place that isn’t your home? It can when that place is as special as coastal Maine and you just came back from spending a weekend teaching with amazing students in the company of amazing fellow teachers in a most AMAZING location at the Make. Wear. Love retreat.
From the first glance at the coast and our lighthouse home, I knew this was going to be an incredibly special weekend – but I had no idea how special.
Make Wear Love retreat – sweater love and proud of it!
The retreat is the brain child of Amy Herzog to spend a weekend focusing on sweater making, and helping students put what they learned through Custom Fit in action (if anyone out there in blogland doesn’t know about Custom Fit, click the link – seriously, your sweater knitting life will never be the same), but it was SOOOO much more than that.
I think what spoke to me as a “technique nerd”, was Amy’s welcome comments that first night. She mentioned the much noted statistic that there are more knitters than golfers, yet one big difference is golfers don’t apologize. They don’t apologize or feel “silly” for the time and money they spend working on perfecting the thing they love. This comment was like a bolt out of the blue for me. As someone who has made their life’s work exploring what others might find to be “minutia” (like the technical details of how our stitches are formed and how to form them better), I felt more than just validated, more then just appreciated, I felt understood – and so did every knitter in that room.
I was expecting to be inspired by working with incredible teachers like Amy (who made knitters embrace the thing I love to make more than anything – sweaters) Clara Parkes (obviously to say she “wrote the book” on everything about yarn is not just an expression – if I could crack open her head like a walnut and extract everything she knows about yarn . . . but that’s creepy, so instead I’ll just bask), Kim McBrien Evans (who created such amazing yarn with the most brilliant colors and equally brilliant names – seriously BRILLIANT), and Gwen Bortner (a woman proud to call herself a technician, and damn does she know some cool tricks!), but I didn’t anticipate how inspired I’d be by the 80 spectacular knitters who showed up to learn.
The weekend was filled with such laughter, relaxation and ah ha moments, it’s impossible to sum up, so I’ll just share one story and then let the pictures speak for themselves. I was there to teach “Improve Your Knitting”, that meant we spent hours just focused on better ways to form the stitch, tension your yarn, create increases and decrease, blah, blah, blah. We weren’t “making” anything (except better knitters), but wow were these knitters energized and brilliant students.
There were two friends Cindy and Britta who took the time to show me just how much their knitting had changed since taking my class (something that brings me more joy then I can say). Cindy showed me a swatch and said, pointing the the bottom half “look, this is the swatch I made before your class, and here (pointing to the top half) is my knitting after your class. Can you see the difference?”. After a moment of dumbfounded silence I nearly yelled ” What am I, hard of seeing? Of course I can see the difference!”. These pictures don’t quite capture it, but . . .
The next day, Britta was in my class. I was walking around the room watching people knit and giving feedback, and I made a small suggestion to Britta on a change she might make to how she was tensioning her yarn. She screwed up her face and stared at her knitting with the intense concentration of a golfer trying to perfect her put (see it all comes full circle). By the first break she showed me proudly the perfect stitches she made. Here they both are proudly displaying their knitting. They have a right to be proud.
Then there was the knitter who decided to start her sweater over once she took Kim’s class, knowing she COULD get the neckline she wanted, the knitter who told me she would never look at yarn the same way again after taking Clara’s class, the knitter who seamed her VERY FIRST ever sweater together after taking Gwen’s class, and the knitter, after knitter, after knitter, who told stories of how they made the sweater they love thanks to Amy’s classes.
I teach at a lot of shows and guilds where you spend 3 – 6 hours with knitters. Spending three days, talking, listening, laughing and eating Lobster with knitters . . . that’s a whole different, wonderful ballgame.
Here are a few pictures to enjoy. I hope when the traffic noise and crazy life of NYC gets too much, I can close my eyes and see the coast, smell the air, feel the grass under my feet and hear the click of needles and the laughter of happy knitters.
p.s. If you want to know how AWESOME it is to spend an entire weekend exploring sweaters in a beautiful place, I hope you can join me at Camp Stitches in New Mexico in November. I blogged about it here.
Yeah, yeah, yeah (you’re probably thinking), I know I need to make a gauge swatch. This isn’t about the need or even the how, but the what the heck do you do when . . . .
Measuring in Knitting – The X-Ray
So as many of you that have taken my gauge class knows, I’m not a fan of just measuring the entire width of a swatch to get your gauge. This method (for me) has proven to be very inaccurate, especially when designing a garment in negative ease where the gauge will really matter.
I’m a believer in counting your stitches and rows. The reason is, the anatomy of those end stitches is just not the same as the stitches in the middle of the fabric.
So I cast on my gauge swatch, doing the speed swatch method to simulate knitting in the round (I wrote an article about it for Creative Knitting), blocked it, let it dry and then took it out to measure.
One problem, the yarn was both dark, fuzzy with little flecks of bling that made seeing the stitches pretty difficult.
After a few attempts I felt like this:
I was watching TV and an old episode of Grey’s Anatomy was on and a perfectly quaffed (according to UrbanDictionary.com, the new version of coiffed), impossibly beautiful doctor shoved an x-ray onto one of those little light boxes
When the light bulb when off in my head and a voice screamed “TAPE IT TO THE WINDOW”
Now I could see my stitch and row gauge!!
Who said TV can’t teach you anything.
For more gauge tricks check out my two new classes in Vogue Knitting Live Chicago:
Measure Up: Gauge Basics
Description: You keep hearing about gauge, but you’re not quite sure what all the fuss is about. If the fear of “not getting gauge” is stopping you from moving into sweater knitting, fear no more. In this class we’ll cover all the basics of gauge: how to make and measure a swatch; explore how needle size, as well as needle material, can change your gauge; and learn about blocking and hanging your swatch. We’ll have hands-on practice for measuring and experiment with needle size changes on your knitting. We will also look at more complex gauge issues such as gauge in a pattern stitch and look at pattern examples to figure out how to make an “in pattern” gauge swatch. Finally we’ll learn some easy math so you can figure out if your gauge will work for your pattern. Don’t let gauge scare you away from knitting the sweater of your dreams.
Make YOUR Gauge Work
Description: You know the basics of gauge, but how do you make your own gauge work for you! Stop trying to match the gauge exactly and learn how to knit a project to YOUR gauge. After a review of the basics, and how to make a “truthful” swatch, we’ll get to some of the trickier elements of gauge, such as pre blocked vs. blocked gauge, hung gauge, and the difference between yarn gauge and pattern gauge. We will explore what to do when a project is knit in the round or in a pattern stitch. Finally, we’ll master the math of using your gauge, not just the pattern gauge. We’ll learn how to work an existing size with a different gauge, resize a sweater by using a different gauge, how to add different stitch patterns to your garment, and how to make adjustments to your pattern when your row gauge is off. Stop trying to match someone else’s gauge and discover the joys of making YOUR gauge work!
NOTE: In order to make your gauge work . . . you have to do math
Designing Knitting Stitches
So where does inspiration come from? From a sunset, a beautiful field, a work of art . . . a laundry hamper.
Yep, you heard me right. Sometimes inspiration comes from the weirdest places. A little over a year ago, my husband David and I were at an adorable Inn In Woodstock New York, and I just loved the laundry hamper. It was a cool basket with a kind of weird swirley pattern.
Even though I was on deadline at the time for another sweater (more on that hoodie at a later date), I picked up my needles and started playing around to see if I could recreate it. I tried traditional cables, and lace stitches, and finally, I just invented a weird twisted stitch pass over thingy that I quite liked.
Does the stitch look exactly like the basket? Not at all, but that’s not the point. The basket was a jumping off point that made me pick up my needles. I stopped trying to “match” it when I got something on my needles that said “hey, stop, look at me, aren’t I cute?”
Since I loved the way it added a certain structure to a really floopy silk, and the swatch trapped air in a pleasing way, I thought, scarf or shawl??? How bout scawl or sharf. That’s when you can’t quite make up your mind so you design a really wide scarf that can stretch out over your shoulders, or squinch up around your neck. Also, it’s easy to adjust at any length or width because it’s a 4 stitch repeat.
So if you want to make one for yourself,
Here ya go (click on the picture or name for more info, or the “buy now” to . . . well, you know)