Monday, October 31, 2011

Classes at Shall We Knit this coming weekend

This weekend I'm off to visit the lovely ladies of Shall We Knit, in their new location in Waterloo.

There are four classes on the calendar:

  • Continental Knitting - ideal for knitters of all levels, speed up your knitting and help ensure you don't injure yourself.  See Kate demonstrate the magical Norwegian purl!
  • Introduction to Lace - ideal for knitters with a little experience, I teach you to work lace stitches, I talk about how lace works, provide some tips for choosing easy lace patterns, and make sure you can read both written and charted lace patterns.  We'll get you started on your first lace project!
  • Lizard Ridge (the single most beautiful blanket project in the entire world; ok, I'm a huge Noro fanatic and I may be biased, but you gotta agree it's pretty spectacular)


  • War & Peace: 2 Socks in One  - for sock knitters with experience and a well-developed sense of adventure... two socks, one inside the other... 

There are a few spaces available in all the classes - call or visit the shop to register.

Monday, October 24, 2011

What I did last week: Rhinebeck!

Every year at this time, I used to read all the blogged recaps of the Rhinebeck wool festival with great envy.  It seemed like such an excellent way to spend an autumn weekend, and somehow, I never seemed to manage to go.

This year, I got organized and I actually went.

Holy sheep! What a weekend!

Pics and a recap on the Knittyblog.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Something for Mum to show off?....

Although popular, knitting is still, ultimately, a "fringe" activity.  Not everyone does it (although we're trying), and (despite our best efforts), it's not something that's mentioned everyday in popular broad-distribution media.

Sometimes I worry about my poor Mum, who for so many years has had to attempt to explain to her friends what it is I do for a living.  For a long time, it was obscure jobs within the tech industry, varying from things as exciting and commonplace as SGML editing software, to Document Management, to media streaming services.  (My brother Tony is a science teacher - that's much easier to explain to your friends.)

And then I chucked all that tech industry nonsense to knit for a living.  Although everyone knows what knitting is, unless you're an active crafter, chances are you won't come across evidence of my work.  And so there's poor Mum, stuck at the coffee shop, still trying to explain what it is I do.

But now, we have the answer: the November issue of Canadian Living magazine. Canadian Living is ubiquitous.  It's a terrific magazine, and it's been around for a long time.  Everyone has a copy somewhere in their house - often a back issue with one of their terrific recipes marked.  (I still regularly make a mushroom barley soup they published in their pages in the early 1990s.)

It's got food, lifestyle, style and craft features. And they publish knitting patterns.

And this month, it's my pattern!

I'm thrilled to appear within the pages, with a lace scarf design. It's intended to be an introduction to lace knitting for knitters of all levels - all you need to know how to do is cast on, cast off, and knit and purl.  My tutorial takes care of the rest.

And Mum can show it off to her heart's content!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

"Beyond Knit and Purl"

I'm very proud to announce that my book!!!!! is available for pre-order now...

"Beyond Knit and Purl" is designed to be the book that takes you from being confident about your needles to being confident about patterns.

I've been teaching knitting for nearly 10 years, and it's pretty clear to me that there's been a massive hole in the knitting literature and instruction... we teach you how to hold your yarn and needles, we show you how to knit and purl, and then we send you into a yarn shop and expect you to be able to choose a pattern and yarn and then successfully knit it.

My book is designed to help knitters grow from being confident with their needles to being confident with patterns. In it, key questions are answered, e.g.: "What's ease", "What does it mean when it says to decrease evenly across?", "What skills do I need to knit socks?", and "What's the big deal about not twisting the round?"

The first third of the book is all about working with and from patterns - how to choose a good pattern, how to know if a pattern is going to be easy or difficult.  How to choose the appropriate yarn and why and how to swatch (and when not to... ).  How to choose what size to knit. And I explain all that strange language you see in patterns... like "work even" and "every foll alt"; I teach you how to read charts.  I clearly explain what skills are needed for different types of projects and what the appropriate next steps are for newer knitters.

The rest of the book is all about specific techniques... Increasing & Decreasing, Working in the Round, Socks, Cables, Lace and Colorwork. Each chapter explains they key facts, stitches and techniques with lots of helpful photos and diagrams, and then provides four projects for knitters to practice.  There's a quick-hit mini project, one or two evening's worth of work, a great way to try out some skills and gain confidence, and then there are three other skill-builder projects, lots of quick and easy knits like hats and mitts and scarves and shawls.  Even a top-down one piece baby sweater, to learn all about this important and popular sweater knitting method.

Visit the Cooperative Press website for more info and to pre-order.

I'll be at Rhinebeck with the book, showing off some of the projects.  Come by to say hello!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Mittens for Very Cold Hands

I have a problem.  It's called Raynaud's phenomenon. When I experience cold weather, (or a rapid change in temperature), the blood vessels in my fingers contract and blood supply is decreased.  It's not dangerous, but it is unpleasant, and I therefore try very hard not to get my hands cold. (It's true for my toes, too, but the problem is generally easier to solve with 2 pairs of socks.) Combine this with naturally low blood pressure and not great circulation, and it's a recipe for needing mittens in October.

This means that I need a fairly extensive collection of warm hand-wear. It's October now, and I'm already wearing fingerless mitt to walk the dog in the morning  

Another couple of weeks, and it will be full-on Fair Isle mittens for the morning walks.  Stranded Fair Isle makes lovely warm mittens because the strands provide a lining that keeps the wind out, and keeps the warmth in.My Morse Code mittens are my latest Fair Isle mitten design.

Come the middle of November, the Fair Isle mittens will start to fail me.

At this point, I usually give up with the hand-knit mitts entirely, and switch over to my Everest-rated Expedition mittens from Mountain Equipment Co-op.  Come January, I'm wearing those with an additional layer underneath.  

As a knitter, I also feel slightly sad when I have to break out the store-bought mittens.  Surely I should be able to make something myself. Surely I should be able to keep myself warm with wool?

This year, I'm trying something new.

I'm making stranded Fair Isle mittens to be felted! So they're wool, stranded, and they will be felted. The felting will make them thicker, denser, more windproof. With any luck, these will keep me going until December...

The design is a very very loose interpretation of the Felted Fusion Mittens from Green Elf Designs, using Briggs & Little Heritage yarn.

Unfelted, they are comically large.  Being a household with only a front-loading washing machine, 'll be hitting up my friend with the top-loader again this weekend.

And there are rather a lot of ends to weave in.  It's a good thing I'm teaching a Finishing class tonight... I always need a good demo for weaving in ends...