Blog - Patty Lyons | Knitting Teacher


So here I sit feeling pretty good about my crafting ability. I’m making a hat out of the wool I spun and dyed myself.

Granted, it is the most simplistic hat pattern known to man . . . the wool came out uneven and chunky . . . the color isn’t what I wanted . . . what the hell? I suck!

I’m having a dilettante moment. (For my favorite musical definition of dilettante, check out my rockin’ pal Nell Balaban’s song. Just click on her name, and click on Dilettante on her site). A dilettante moment, we’ve all had them–usually after meeting someone who’s a real artist. Someone who does more than follow a pattern. Someone who, at the risk of sounding both trite and queer at the same time, follows her heart. I recently came across not one, but two such examples of our craft at its most impressive.

First was Christina O. She was the woman who taught me how to make my cardboard box Tensioned Lazy Kate (by the way, here are links to other people’s homemade lazy Kates: Stuck on Socks, and Keyboard Biologist). I met her at last week’s Sit n’ Knit NY. She (wait for it) felted her own wedding dress. WHAT? Now that may seem like some crazy heavy, smelly-when-wet, dress, but NO. It looked lighter than air. Here’s the description of the process from her blog:

The bodice is almost finished and I started on the petals for the skirt. This is really exciting. I love my electric sander. It really makes life easy. So here’s how I’m doing it. First, I cut the gauze in a petal shape. There are three sizes, as the skirt is longer in the back than the front, and I wanted to keep the number of rows the same. That means the petals in the back will be in a triangle shape with the larger ones in the middle, and then graduated sizes to the outside. After the gauze is cut, a petal is laid on the counter, wet down with soap/water spray, and the wool is laid on top. Once the areas are filled in, wet muslin is put on top of that, and I lightly sand it-a few seconds for each area. I flip the fabric over, and now the felt is stuck a little to the muslin. I peel it off like hot wax, at an angle away from the felt, so that I don’t disturb the placement of the wool. Next, I sand it some more, this time for longer to make sure the layers are attached. I flip it over and sand the backside for good measure, then rinse out the soap and full it on the washboard in the sink. Ahhhh. That’s all there is to it.

That’s right folks, “that’s all there is to it.” WHAT?!? Here’s a pic of the finished dress:

You all must go see the pics of the whole crazy process. Click on the photo album link.

Next there’s my friend Francesca’s mom. She crocheted and beaded, not only her own wedding dress, but her bridesmaid’s, matron of honor’s and flower girl’s as well. Here’s a blurb from the local paper:

(At her wedding on Saturday Miss Pauline Philomena Bagshaw wore a full-length dress and train which she had crocheted herself. The bodice and sleeves were edged with 1500 beads. She also made her bridesmaid’s and matron of honour’s crocheted dresses.)

And then there’s me: dabbler, trifler, idler, amateur, lightweight, tinkerer, dilet–wait a minute. I just finished my hat. It looks pretty good! The color in the yarn looks really neat. The uneven weight turned out cool. I rock!

Muddah, faddah kindly disregard this letter. (you’re either old enough to get that reference or you’re not. Sorry.)

Men’s sweater vest

I’m looking for a simple sweater vest for a very picky man. Does anyone have a pattern with a single cable, and a v neck? Everything I’ve showed David he’s nixed for one reason or another.

Spinning is like crack!

So I spun my first 6 oz of wool. It’s incredibly addictive. All I can think of is my next roving fix. Oh sure it starts with a free drop spindle and a bit of wool, next you’re buying a few dollars worth of roving, next thing you know you’re cruising eBay looking for Spinning Wheels.

Here’s my crazy drop spindle made from CDs and my first spindle full of wool.

My first 3 oz. were pretty chunky. Christina gave me a bit of blue roving. I practiced on it and plyed it with a commercial yarn. I knit this sad little swatch with me very first plied yarn:

After a little practice, I took a shot at the other 3 oz. of wool. I did a little better on the old drop spindle. I Kool Aid dyed both plys a light raspberry. I meant it to be a lot darker, but I didn’t use enough Kool Aid. David kept threatening to drink it because it smelled “so sweet and tasty”.

Here’s my first ply before and after Kool Aid dying:

I built the bizarre little cardboard box contraption that Christina drew for me. I was initially going to ply each 3 oz spindle with commercial yarn, but I decided to ply them together after all.

And finally, days later. . . 65 yards of pinkish chunky, hand spun, hand dyed wool. YEAH!

I’m doomed!!!!!!!

Crazy Weekend of Knitting – part two

If your just checking the blog today, scroll down (trust me it’s worth it). This is actually part two of a post. There was too much for one post.

On to Knit Out New York. Holy @^%$ that’s a lotta knitters in one place! I got there at 11:58 am (it started at noon), and there were already thousands of people there. Usually I love being around knitters, but being around 30,000 knitters when free patterns, free yarn, and free needles are being given out, was not for the faint of heart. I don’t know what the heck was going on at the Michael’s booth, but those women looked like they’d kill you just as soon as look at you, so I kept moving.
I enjoyed the fashion show. The dogs were really hard to photograph, because they moved kinda quickly. The kids were even harder to photograph. All my kid shots came out blurry. Here are some of the doggy fashion show.

(the dog wouldn’t put on the sweater)

The human fashion show was really long, but the always fabulous Yarn Harlot kept things lively. The whole show broke down into three distinct groups:
1) things I would knit and wear
2) things that I admire, but wouldn’t wear
3) just because you can knit it, doesn’t mean you SHOULD knit it

1 – Things I would knit and wear
(my fave – Lion Brand Cashmere Blend. Knit it Fall/Winter 06)
(I liked this as a top, but was horrified when they said it was a dress. Is the designer high?)

2- Things that I admire, but wouldn’t wear

3- Just because you can knit it, doesn’t mean you SHOULD knit it

(WAY too much)

(What’s with the plate on her head!!)

(RONG – Wrong!)

After the wool fashion show in 89 degree weather, it was time for a B&N iced coffee break before meeting up with the Sit n’ Knit NY group. I met some really cool knitters. I hooked up with some of my fellow bloggers, Annie, Hila, Necia. I also met this amazing spinner, Christina. She taught me how to ply the two singles that I’m going to spin. She even drew me a little sketch of how to make some crazy cardboard box thing. Can’t wait to try it. Thanks all.

Crazy Weekend of Knitting

So my fun filled few days of knitting began Thursday night at the Tea Lounge in Park Slope (I know, not technically the weekend, but just go with me. There I met the Park Slope Knitting Circle. It was really a great evening. First of all, love my Tea Lounge! If they sold yarn it would be my fave place on earth. Hmmm, that’s an idea. I met a lot of cool knitters. My favorite moment in the evening was when Emily nonchalantly walked in carrying her spinning wheel. As you might imagine . . . she turned a few heads. She was nice enough to give me a little tutorial. I found it pretty cool, but lets face it. I’m out of control enough with the knitting. I can’t get into spinning. . . right. . . (gulp).

(Emily on her wheel)

Then I saw this woman knitting a beautiful sweater out of yarn she spun herself. Well Alexandra started talking to me about how great spinning is. I said I don’t really have any room for a wheel. She said “you can spin on a drop spindle”. I said “you are not going to be satisfied until I start spinning”. Well Alexandra, Emily, wait till ya hear what I did on Saturday!

(Alexandra and her super cool hand spun wool)

So next stop on Patty’s tour of cool knitting spots was the New Jersey Sheep and Wool festival. It was my first ever Sheep & Wool Festival. It was also my consolation prize for not being able to go to Rhinebeck. It’s the same weekend as my family reunion. Although I toyed around with the idea of disowning my own family, I came out of my yarn daze in time to realize that wasn’t a great idea. As soon as my pal Francesca and I arrived we signed up for the 10:30 am spinning workshop (Happy now Alexandra??). We got a crazy drop spindle made from two CD’s. It was really hard to get the hang of. Francesca said hers looked like dred locks. Of course, by the end of the workshop I was shopping for rowving. I decided to buy 6 oz because I figured that would take me a while.

(spinning class)

(Francesca spinning her dred locks)

Here are some picks from the parade of breeds, the adorable Alpacas. So cute you wanna take them home. A tiny boy, like four, came up to one of the Alpaca owners and asked “Can I feed the bunnies?”. The guy didn’t have the heart to explain the whole, they’re not giant bunnies, thing, so he just said “I don’t have anything to feed them.

(Parade of Breeds)

(Strangely evil looking sheep)

(nice bunnies . . .I mean sweaters) (SCARY sheep)

(Francesca with the sheep of her homeland!)

Way off in the corner of the barn, segregated from all the other sheep was the sad sight of racism in the animal kingdom. The dreaded KKK sheep:

Okay, not really. I think they were just keeping there coats clean until after the show. But we did think they looked just like KKK sheep. They kinda freaked me out.

The craziest thing we saw was the sheep dog demonstration. They were herding, wait for it, geese. It was one of the more bizarre sights in the world. I don’t know why the site of dogs ganging up on foul to make them walk through an obstacle course, renewed my faith in humanity . . . but it did.

(get in there, don’t make me have to get up!)

Of course what day would be complete without a sheep shearing a fleece auction. I was feeling full of love for these creatures that gave me my fiber. I called home and told David I was going to buy a small sheep to keep up on the roof deck. He was not amused.

(thank you for all you do for us)

(This one I just call – TRUST)

(why can’t I own this sheep?)

coming up next . . . Knit Out NY!!!!!!

Read twice, Knit once

So, I’m cruising along a few nights ago on my Sarah Tank Top, and I’m feeling a stockinette malaise setting in. Kind of getting bored, kind of itching for a little yarn over, purl together action. So I measure and I think “yeah, it’s time for the cool edge pattern that repeats in the center of the top”. I happily knit a whole round until I realize that I forgot to do the increase round you need to do before the pattern. %#@$%!!! Unknitting a whole round of pearl togethers and yarn overs is a stone cold drag.
Meanwhile, back in to the world’s most tedious project. My friend Zeena saw a black, white and grey braided scarf last winter (for $45.00!). I told her “screw that, I’ll just make you one”. I’ve been knitting working on it on and off for eleven months. Knitting three REALLY long strips of knit two, purl two in sock weight yarn is so boring. I keep the strips rolled up so I can carry them on the subway easier. It makes it look cooler than it is.

tomorrow I’ll tell you all about my crazy knitting weekend (Park Slope Knitting Circle on Thursday, NJ Sheep and Wool Festival Sunday, Knit out NY and Sit n’ Knit NY on Sunday)

Summer knitting had me a blast (or hot town, knitting in the city)

It’s rainy and 65 here in beautiful Brooklyn. I’m desperately trying to get my Sarah tank top done before there are no more 80 degree days left.

As promised, I’m going to sum up Patty’s summer of knitting. My summer of psycho crazed knitting began in June when I had my first summer off in years. I was able to spend more time with David then I have in . . . forever, and hang out on my deck and knit. Some might see this as unemployment, but my pal Nell simply called it “P & D’s summer V” and it ROCKED!

Here’s where you could find me most days:
The first early summer sweater I finished was a bit of a trauma. It was the Moda Dea Curious Diamond top in Distrato Tutti Purple yarn. I like to call it the muppet sweater. This pattern is a LIE!! See the nice model, see the nice model wearing a form fitting sweater, see the nice model wearing a sweater that has NOTHING TO DO WITH THE PATTERN. So, I knit the entire front (yes, I did a gauge sample, I’m kind of a nut about doing that) and it looked like a shapeless potato sack. I bravely, naively, stupidly knit on thinking “I’m sure the pattern writer knows best, it will all come together.” I knit the back. I frogged it and started again. I rewrote the pattern entirely, removed one whole pattern repeat and added shaping to the side. This is the result:
The yarn is this crazy furry stuff that makes me feel a bit like Elmo when I wear it, but that’s life.

With a closet FULL of projects, I did the only thing a girl can do as the summer heats up. .. buy summer weight yarn! As the temperature rose (and rose and rose!) it was time to put away all thoughts of wool and alpaca and anything that came from a furry beast, and turn our attention to all things cottony blendy.

Next up was the adorable xback ribbon tank. It knit up in a couple of days. My problem is the ribbon yarn I used was really stretchy, thus making it a little (ehem) whorey to wear braless. I ended up knitting a little shelf bra inside. My mother would be so proud. I had a skein and 1/2 left over, so I made a little shrug

With a big ole bag of cotton & viscose blends, cotton & linen blends, and cotton & strange chemically sounding word blends it was time to delve yet deeper into the wonderful world of summer tops. First stop the Honeymoon Cami. What the hell would I do without I loved knitting this top, and although I though at first the designer was high when she called a ssk a right slanting decrease. I decided to go on blind faith (although still stinging from the whole muppet sweater affair). It turned out FAB! I think she just meant that ssk was the decrease on the right side of the sweater. Whatever, all is forgiven, cause check it out:

Next came another tank, Evening Diamonds, and another r-0-n-g, wrong pattern. This time I only got halfway through the front before I realized the math was all wrong. By the time you get to dividing for front and back you don’t have the right amount of stitches. I counted backwards from the divide to figure out the right number of stitches to cast on. It was also my first foray into crochet (for the edge).

Since the little Evening tank took me a good long while. I decided to move on to instant gratification time. Yes, I’m talking Loop d Loop ballet t-shirt. It knit up (hand to god) in 3 1/2 hours. I bought a bag of ten Filatura Lanarota Summer Soft at Smiley’s and it was perfect for this top.

I got a huge cone (my first) of greyish lavender mohair from David’s mom. People are constantly dropping yarn and unfinished sweaters off at her house. I told her she could go into business finishing other people’s projects. I usually walk away with a little sumin’ sumin’ for the old stash every time I visit. The mohair seemed perfect for the Fluffy lace camisole and pull off cowl from Weekend Knitting. I’d been meaning to make it for a while, but hadn’t learned how to crochet, for the edging. Now that I conquered crochet for the evening tank. I dove it. It’s just a big tube, no shaping, so it got a little headachey after awhile, and it didn’t look as good on me as the model, but I still like it.

More later about my trip to the NJ Sheep and Wool Festival, and of course, Knit Out NY!

Finally . . .

After years of saying “why would anyone want to read what I have to write” (all the while reading every knitting blog I could find), I finally gave in. My first post is kinda long – I’m just catching up.

So, here I am . . . a little about me. I’m a Stage Manager who lives in FABULOUS Park Slope Brooklyn. Years ago when I was working at Lincoln Center I used to sit in rehearsal and watch Ira Weitzman (the Musical Theatre Associate Producer) knit hats. I was fascinated by the strange and wonderful circular needles. I had learned to knit when I was a kid, but I never got past the ole’ garter stitch scarf stage. My next step towards knitting obsession was when I was working as a Stage Manager on the Broadway show 42nd Street.

(Company shot – that’s me in the black shirt & jeans in the first row)
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