Friday, December 14, 2012

History on Two Needles - Mine and Annie's

I had the distinct pleasure this summer and fall of working with Annie Modesitt on her new book, History on Two Needles.

Please forgive me if what is supposed to be a book review turns into a blog post about me...

I've been a serious knitter since the mid 1990s, in my early years as a knitter, resources available were scarce. There were few magazines, few books being published, and those books that were in print were hard to find.

I don't remember where I heard about Annie Modesitt - likely on the KnitList. I had read about Annie's self-published book "Confessions of a Knitting Heretic" and I knew I had to own it. I treasure my copy, and have only ever let it out of my house once - to a very special friend/private student H., who hails from Iran, and needed some emotional (rather than technical) support as a combination knitter.

I loved both Annie's clear and pragmatic approach to knitting, and her personal stories about her knitting experience. Annie made me feel like a clever and informed knitter.

Her approach suited my needs perfectly: she likes to explain the how and why, rather than just give blanket instructions without context. This is how I teach my classes, and I have carried over this approach into my own books.

I am a better knitter and teacher because of Annie.

I nearly fell off my chair this summer when Shannon asked me if I'd be interested in tech editing Annie's upcoming book.

I must confess, I was a little intimidated. Annie's work is of such great intelligence and creativity that I was worried I wouldn't be able to understand it. Her style is so distinctive that I was worried that I would ruin it. And her work is so wonderfully detailed and meticulous that I was afraid I'd make stupid mistakes.

However, the chance to to get an advanced peek at her work: I couldn't possibly say no. This new book has been in development for some time. It's an ambitious project: a set of garment and accessories inspired by historical images, blending Annie's love of art, history and art history - and the preview pictures had blown me away.

The process of working with Annie was wonderful. I loved that we could have discussions about what knowledge was safe to assume her knitters had; it was great to be able to use the mount-independent notation I'd been obsessed with since I'd seen it in her original book (k2tog-L and k2tog-R); I relished the challenge of complex patterns and constructions.

And once I got over the "surely I can't have found a mistake in Annie's work, it must be *me*" factor, it was an easy process, too. Annie was a very willing subject for my reviews, always happy to check her math when I suggested that something might not work, always open to my suggestions about clarification. And along the way, I learned a lot.

There's a huge variety of items in the book, drawing inspiration from art ancient and modern. Although all the projects are fabulous, I have two particular favourites.

As a knitter, I adore the  Minoan Surplice: it's simple, it's elegant, and so utterly modern.

I'm hoping to get time to make my own over the Christmas break.

And the other end, as a designer and an editor, I am in awe over the Sutton Hoo Helm. It's a masterwork of construction, absolutely fascinating piece.

(And if the weather is going to be as bad this winter as they say it is, I might have to knit one of these too.)

What I love most about the book - even more than the thrill of seeing my name in the acknowledgements list! and it is a big thrill! - is that Annie's love of the history comes through loud and clear. She has given a history and context for all of the items, with details on her inspiration.

It was an honour to be part of the process and I can't wait to wear my own Modesitt original.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Upcoming Weekend Classes

Sunday December 2nd I'm making a special appearance at the Knit Cafe in Toronto to teach an Introduction to Colourwork class. Fancy making my Campbell Glen mittens? Or ready for a curling sweater? Come and join me!

The class is suitable for knitters of any level who want to experiment with colourwork. All you need is to be confident with knitting and purling.

Details here.

And the weekend after, Saturday December 8th, I'm at the Needle Emporium in Ancaster with the lovely Julie and Beth for two classes: Fixing Mistakes and Toe-up Socks.

Fixing Mistakes: Suitable for knitters of all experience levels, I talk about how to deal with mistakes of all kinds - when and how to fix 'em, and when you don't need to! Bring any mistakes you might have. (Not to imply you make mistakes, not at all... )

Toe Up Socks: This is an ideal next step in your sock knitting adventures. Suited to intermediate knitters, or knitters who have experience with top-down socks.

Info here.

Monday, November 26, 2012

"Unlike most knitters do"; on Slipping

I've been having a fascinating conversation with a knitter on Ravelry. My correspondent, the clever Patty-Joy, left a comment on my Bigger on the Inside pattern, suggesting a correction to the pattern.

I quote her comment here (emphasis hers):

"Another urgently needed pattern update is to indicate at the very start of the pattern that, unlike most knitters do, you must not slip the first stitch as if you do you won’t have nearly enough stitches to pick up the Tardis section."
This surprised me enormously, I'll be honest.The section of the pattern she's referring to is charted, and there isn't a single slipped st in the chart. The first st of every row is worked in stocking stitch.  I wouldn’t have thought, when writing the pattern, that I needed to make a note to not slip, since the instruction is specifically to knit (or purl) the stitch. And nowhere anywhere do I talk about slipping stitches.

What struck me was that Patty-Joy was suggesting, effectively, that knitters routinely ignore my chart...

Now, as a teacher and long-standing knitter, I'm well aware that there is a school of thought that you are to slip the first stitch of every row. But I didn't think that it was that common in practice.

As a designer, I only expect knitters to slip a stitch when I tell them to. And as a teacher, I tell knitters to only slip when the designer tells them to.(In general, IMHO, slipping the first stitch is only helpful or desirable in two situations: if the edges of the piece are going to be exposed, a slipped-stitch selvedge creates a nice edge; and in the heel of a top-down sock, slipping the first stitch of every row is used to help knitters figure out where to pick up stitches. It most other situations, it makes your life more difficult: I find it makes seaming harder, and it reduces the places to pick up stitches - applicable in this situation.) So yes, Patty-Joy's statement surprised me. It surprises me that knitters do slip that stitch in the face of instructions that tell them specifically to knit (or purl) it. Which causes me to wonder how many people do, as a matter of course, slip that first stitch? Do you?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Knit Accessories: Essentials & Variations

Another book already? I know! 

I've been teaching knitting for a while now, and I've worked on and off in yarn shops, and the question I hear so often is "I need a good basic hat/mitt/sock pattern". I hear this from newer knitters, who are looking to make their first hat/mitts/socks, but also from more experienced knitters who are looking for a set or reliable basics that they can use over and over again.

Every knitter needs a set of go-to accessory patterns: hats, scarves, cowls, socks and mittens. These are the patterns that we turn to every winter to make holiday gifts. These are the patterns a knitter relies upon when looking for a quick and easy knit, or a plain sock to work in a self-patterning yarn, or when the weather turns cold and the family needs hats.

KNIT ACCESSORIES: ESSENTIALS AND VARIATIONS is a 64-page booklet collecting these basics and providing a jumping-off point for knitters to create their own unique accessories.

Beginner-friendly and approachable, it’s designed to be a knitter’s first book of patterns, featuring clearly written patterns for easy-to-knit (but still useful) projects that help build confidence and skills.

And it’s not just for beginners! KNIT ACCESSORIES: ESSENTIALS AND VARIATIONS offers more experienced knitters a solid set of master templates to use over and over, with suggestions for altering and customization.

The Patterns
Simple and classic designs... scarves , cowls, hats, mitts and socks
... in a range of sizes... youth small to adult XL
... in two gauges each.... for flexibility without overwhelming

With recipes, ideas and tips for customizing
• suggestions for stitch patterns
• ways to customize with color
And for scarves and cowls, a table of yardage/gauge/finished sizes.

And It’s Not Just a Pattern Book
Mini tutorials to help newer knitters build confidence:
• how (and why) to check gauge for the patterns; and when not to
• tips for working in the round on both circulars and DPNs
• help with tricky spots, e.g.: closing up the hole at the base of a mitten thumb, picking up gusset stitches in top-down socks.
Tips and tricks for knitters of all levels:
• guidance on yarn substitutions – what makes a yarn good for a given application? (e.g. pilliness, washability, softness); recommendations for non-wool alternatives.
• suggestions for gift knitting – how to choose colors, sneaky ways to get sizing info, and what to make if you have no idea of size.

You can buy the book - either physical or digital versions (or both!) - online here, the digital version through Ravelry here. Soon to be available on Patternfish, too.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Interview on Leanne Dyck's Blog

Earlier this fall I struck up a fab email conversation with author and fellow knitter Leanne Dyck, author of the book "The Sweater Curse". Her book is a knitting-themed mystery - how could I NOT enjoy talking to her?

She's published an interview with me on her blog...  in which I confess I can't actually remember which was my first published pattern. This either means that I've published so many that I've lost track or (more likely) just that my memory is going.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

New Pattern: Campbell Glen* Fingerless Mitts; And a Class to Go With!

The Argyle pattern evolved from the tartan of the Clan Campbell – the clan of my paternal Grandmother, who grew up in the glens of Scotland. (Really, these write themselves.)

Although this argyle stitch pattern seems very modern, it’s actually a traditional Fair Isle pattern that can be found in some very old, classic sweaters from Shetland. Subtle and classic in grey and white, bright colors would create a totally different look.

They use 2 x 50gm of fingering weight yarn. I used Baby Ull which I got at Shall We Knit, but any fingering would work. There's an Angora blend Regia at Lettuce Knit that would be wonderful for these, and The Purple Purl has some amazing Tanis Sock that would be great.  Spud & Chole Fine would be perfect, too, and the silk would make them very warm.

I got a small pair out of about 80yds of the CC and 120 yds of the MC, so it would work well for leftovers, too.

Suitable for knitters with a little colorwork experience, but you needn’t be an expert to make these work. (After all, blocking hides a multitude of tension-related sins.)

These mittens started life as samples for my Design Your Own Fingerless Mitts class, and they were so nice I decided to keep going and actually make something out of them.

And by coincidence - or perhaps not? -  I'm actually teaching that class next weekend in Toronto at the DKC Winter Workshops. It's an ideal class for knitters who are new to colourwork, and it's a fun way to learn not only about how to work these types of patterns, but to learn about the history and how to design your own. More info about that here.

Anyway, yes. If you're not in Toronto, or want to start knitting now, the Campbell Glen mitt pattern is available now on Ravelry

and Patternfish 

More info here.

*Many thanks to my Twitter followers who helped me out of my usual bind about naming patterns. These were going to be "Argyle Fingerless Mitts", and then they were going to be "Glen Campbell" - I think this is the best choice of the three for the name.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Best two souvenirs ever!

On my recent travels I was lucky enough to spend time with two people who I have considered "internet friends" for some time...

the lovely Fiona Ballard of Pip 'n' Milly Creations and the Yarn Yenta herself, Heatherly Walker.

Fiona makes fabulous bags of all kinds, and she knew I was preparing for a month of insane travel - and Fair Isle classes - so she gifted me with a custom-made knitting bag of my very own. In my favourite shades of orange.

 What's brilliant about this bag - other than the colour and fabric - I mean, really, how good is that print? - is that clear window at the front. Fiona knows I'm working on some Fair Isle, and the wide opening and clear window make this bag ideal for colourwork projects. The two balls of yarn sit side by side in the bag, and the chart rests tidily at the front. It's GENIUS. Bonus sneak preview of new design for you, too.

And Heatherly gifted me with a bag from Slipped Stitch Studios - a Doctor Who project bag for carrying my socks around in.

And I think it's even a little bigger on the inside... 

I'd spotted a student at the KnitLab event carrying a Doctor Who project bag the evening before, and was coveting it badly, so this was a serious hit.

It's so wonderful to have a face and a voice to go with the Twitter avatars I know so well, and to to be able to count both Fiona and Heatherly as my "real life" friends, too. (Not just because they gave me presents, really!)

Monday, November 12, 2012

It's been busy - still is!

I've taught at four major events this fall - the fourth, the Creativ Festival in Toronto, is missing.

It's been amazing. I've met so many wonderful people and taught so many fun classes and travelled and learned so much myself.


So yes, the blog has been quiet but I'm only just catching up with myself and my laundry.

The travelling isn't quite done for the year, however.

Next weekend I'm at Shall We Knit in Waterloo for a full weekend of classes. We're focusing on skills-builders appropriate to knitters of all levels: Fixing Mistakes, Finishing, Continental Knitting and Pattern and Chart Reading.  More info here.

The weekend of November 24/25 is the DKC Winter Workshops.

And Saturday December 8th I'm in Ancaster at The Needle Emporium for Fixing Mistakes and Toe-Up Socks. Anyone who has ever attended a class at Julie's lovely shop will know to expect Festive cookies - Beth has promised! Info here.

Monday, November 05, 2012

DKC Winter Workshops November 24 & 25

Winter has come early this year, it seems. It was below freezing when I woke up this morning.

Toronto's Downtown Knit Collective Winter Workshops are coming early this year, too: November 24 & 25th.

On the Saturday I'm teaching a full-day workshop - Introduction to Fair Isle: Design Your Own Fingerless Mitts. Fresh from Interweave Knitting Lab in San Mateo, this workshop is a fun way to expand your knitting repertoire in two directions: learn all about Fair Isle knitting - the history, how it's worked, how it's designed - and THEN design your own pair of fingerless mitts using traditional Fair Isle patterning.

Sunday I'm doing a workshop on working in the round. I'll cover all the techniques: circulars, DPNs, the Magic Loop and 2-Circulars methods for small circumference rounds, and those new tiny little 8- and 9-inch circular needles. I'll provide all sorts of clever hints & tips for working in the round: including the life-changing way to fix a twist without undoing! Seriously - recent students have said that it's life-changing. I'll also talk about how to covert patterns that are written for working flat to be worked in the round (and when it's a good idea to do it, and when it's not), and how to convert patterns written for DPNs to Magic Loop/2 Circulars (and vice versa).

And then in the afternoon, it's 2 Socks on 2 Circulars. Banish Second Sock Syndrome! Make sure your socks match exactly! Learn a cool new skill! Apply what you learned in the morning's session! No experience with the 2-circulars method necessary, but students should have made a least a couple of pairs of socks.

The classes are held at Metro Hall in downtown Toronto. To register or get more info, visit the DKC website. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Vogue Knit Live Chicago - Day 2

Shannon catches me doing my "I made new sock knitters" victory dance.

Catching up with Jacqueline of Soak.

Hugging an alpaca, because, well,.... wouldn't you?

And buying yarn.. Zealana Air. Laceweight. 40% cashmere, 40% possum, 20% silk.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Vogue Knit Live Chicago - Day 1

Vogue Knitting Live Chicago, Day 1, in Pictures

Fab town, beautiful architecture. Chilly but bright day - perfect for wearing knits.

The hotel is ready for us!

Hey, that's me! I'm official!

My classroom. With my name on it and everything.

And my students. Loved them! So many great people!

Can't wait for Day 2!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Artifacts From My Knitting History

I've known N. since university - which was a long, long time ago.

Her son was born in 1997. I was just getting serious as a knitter at that point, and I was starting to experiment with design. I started a habit that has continued to this day: I used to buy very plain and basic garment patterns and personalize them with my own touches. When N's son was born, I was going through a colourwork phase.

N and I had lunch last week, and she proudly showed me one of the sweaters I knitted for her son. We borrowed a baby to model it.  (That's one of the many great thing about yarn shops, there are often babies around.)

Cute eh?

The sweater isn't bad, either.

It remember the yarn - it's a DK superwash wool. The left sleeve is purple with spots to match the right front, and the back is worked in four quadrants, one in each of the four colors of the sweater.  I, naturally, inspected the work. The knitting is pretty good, but my seaming has improved greatly since then.

I love that N. has kept the sweater all this time. It's nice to see how my work has evolved.

I don't have many of my early pieces; I'm a bit of a perfectionist, and I judged my own work harshly. I knew that it wasn't good, and I just didn't keep it. I wish I had - it's gratifying to see my own progress. And, frankly, I'd like to be able to show off my first few pairs of socks to reassure new sock knitters that everyone has to start someone.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

KnitCity: A Splendid Time, With Coffee

I've been silent for a while; as I mentioned, I've been on the road. I had an amazing trip to Vancouver for the first KnitCity event. It was a roaring success, and I'm confident that Amanda and Fiona will be hosting the event for many years in the future.

The opening presentation of the event was given by Sylvia Olsen, on her work to preserve the Cowichan sweater traditions among the native communities in B.C. An amazing story, and she showed some fabulous work.

I was honoured to be asked to teach, and I met so many amazing people. So many great new friends and students.

It was great to meet the amazing Kim Werker. We've been internet friends for a while, and she was even funnier and more wonderful in person. We had a great discussion about teaching, and apparently I've inspired her to reconsider teaching crochet...

I also reconnected with Ellie Karas, a student of mine from my early teaching days at the Naked Sheep in Toronto. Ellie now runs a knitting shop and events company in Tofino, B.C., Knits By the Sea.

I love Vancouver. They understand me there.

One of my students - clearly a regular reader of my blog and my tweets, brought me a coffee to class. You know who you are: and THANK YOU! Although I don't encourage bribery, a strong americano never goes amiss.

I may have bought some sock yarn, from Em of Everything Old Yarns.

Possibly the greatest thing about the event, however, was the coat check. A local troupe of Girl Guides provided the coat check service, and the deal was that it was free if you bought a box of cookies.

How could you say no?

In sadder news, my good friend and mentor Michael O'Connor Clarke recently lost his battle with cancer. My heart goes out to his family and friends. I've written about this before... Michael was a key part of my decision to change my career, and he was very present in my life as I was starting out my serious knitting adventures. I knitted a sweater for the birth of his youngest son, Ruairi. (It was red, with cables.) I remember that it was when I was working for Michael that I actually started wearing some of my handknits to work. And it was Michael who eventually told me to get the heck of out the tech industry. I will forever be grateful to him for his support and encouragement.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

If it's Tuesday, it must be Entrelac

I've been eagerly looking forward to October for months now.

I've got a mad busy month, and I'm very excited about it.

October 10, 11 and 12 I'm teaching at the Creativ Festival in downtown Toronto. I've got classes on The Baby Surprise Jacket, Entrelac, Colorwork and Custom Fit Socks.

Oct 13 & 14 I'm teaching at the inaugural KnitCity event in Vancouver. Classes for that are Top Down Socks 101, Intro to Colorwork, The War & Peace 2-in-1 Socks, and a class on Working in the round: DPNs, Magic Loop & 2 Circulars.

October 26, 27 & 28 I'm in Chicago for Vogue Knitting Live.

And November 1 & 2 I'm in San Mateo California for Interweave Knitting Lab.

And somewhere in all of this my second book should be going to the printer.

It's Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada, and I'm resting up and filling up on pumpkin pie for strength.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Frequently Asked Questions: Sock Knitting. Number umpty-seven in a series of several million.

I had a great Twitter conversation this morning, and I thought it was worth summarizing here, as it touched on a couple of great points.

A knitter asked about whether it was possible to convert all sock patterns to be worked two-at-a-time, toe up.

The key tweet was this one...

It wasn't directled specifically at me, but I couldn't NOT reply.

My first reply was "Why?" (The unspoken follow-up being" "Are you trying to kill yourself?")

Two-at-a-time toe-up is so not where I would start a new sock knitter, no matter how experienced or talented. I like working toe-up socks, and I find two-at-a-time very amusing, but the start of a toe-up is pretty fiddly for a new sock knitter,and then to compound that by having to keep track of two socks and two yarns... well, it just seems less than fun.

The entirely reasonable reply was that the knitter had been told that toe-up gives you a good way to try the sock on as you go.

Aha, I said! AHA!

This is one of my favourite myths about sock knitting: that there's no meaningful way to try on a top-down sock as you go. Not true!

After all, the sock typically has the same number of stitches in the leg as the foot (given that most people's ankle circumference is pretty close to their foot circumference), so you can put the leg on your foot to check fit. Easy!

And related myth: there's no way to adjust a top down sock foot. Equally not true!

You can try the sock on again after you've turned the heel and you're working the gusset decreases. And you can adjust the fit of the foot by working more (or fewer) gusset decreases. Easy.

And it's actually easier to get the foot length correct for a top-down sock than a toe-up.

Controversial Opinion Alert!

Really. I'll say that again.


Here's the thing: to get the foot length right in a toe-up sock, you need to start the heel at the right place. And to start it at the right place, you need to know how long the heel turn is, and then start working the heel that distance short of foot length. Thing is, I haven't seen many toe up sock patterns that explicitly state that length.

So it's often a guess, or a vague instruction about placement on the foot, or worse, a set length (e.g. 'work foot until sock measures 6 inches, then turn heel'). And if you get it wrong, you've got a fair bit of knitting to undo, and it can be tricky knitting to redo.

It's more common to see a top down sock pattern that tells you when to start the toe(usually, 'work foot until it measures 2 inches short of full foot length'). And if it turns out you've messed it up, there's less knitting in a toe (and it's usually more straightforward), so it's less painful to undo and rework.

To the intrepid knitter on Twitter, I suggested a "walk before you run" approach. I strongly believe that a top-down sock is easiest for a new sock knitter, as you get a chance to build confidence with the tiny yarn and tiny needles working on a set number of stitches in the leg, before you have to start worrying about the tricky stuff. With a toe-up sock, you're immediately thrown in the deep end: you start with a small number of stitches (which is trickier) and straight away have to start shaping the toe.

Once you've mastered top-down, then try toe-up, and then when you're comfortable with toe-up, try two at a time. I also strongly believe a knitter should try both styles to see which construction they enjoy more - and which fits better. They don't fit the same, and feet can vary wildly.

(Totally new to sock knitting? Start here, with my Top Down Training Sock! And if you're ready for toe up, here's the Toe Up Training Sock!)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

If I Knew Then What I Know Now...

Wow. This is both the best and worst thing about the internet.

Back around the dawn of time - well, October 2005, I was knitting the Rogue hoodie, and I blogged about grafting the hood.

It was my ninth post on this blog. 9th!

Rogue is an amazing pattern, a fabulous cabled hoodie with cables that flow into the hood. The hood has to be seamed at the top, and the designer recommended grafting it, although if memory serves the three-needle BO was also suggested as an option.

Not to be one to resist a challenge, I forged ahead with the grafting. It wasn't easy, working across the cables. After all, cables are ribs, and therefore there are combinations of knits and purls.

The standard instructions for grafting that are offered are for stockinette stitch fabrics, and it doesn't look right if you blithely follow them across reverse stockinette stitch (or indeed garter stitch) - and it looks even wonkier if you try to make it work across a ribbed fabric that changes between knits and purls on a single row. I spent a fair bit of time figuring out how to do it for the ribbing. It worked, I was happy with it, and I blogged about how to do it.

I received a very nice email last week from designer and teacher Joan Schrouder. She informed me that my blog post was being discussed on Ravelry, and she very politely and very gently took exception to it.

The bit that's wrong is that I made a couple of sweeping statements about how to graft in reverse stocking stitch and garter stitch. And I was wrong.

Not totally wrong, but wrong enough. What I offered did indeed work for Rogue, but was not the global solution I thought it was.

I wrote the post in 2005 and hadn't read it since. My knowledge and experience have grown significantly since then, and I now understand better the technique of grafting and all the possible situations and required variations.

Once the embarrassment wore off, I was thrilled that Joan took the time to get in touch, and I thanked her profusely. And I promised her I would update the post - which I will.

So yes, the best thing about the internet is that it's forever; everything is preserved so that it can always be found. This is also the worst thing about the internet: that my naivete is still there to be found.

I'm just glad I was informed, so I can fix it.

Ever growing, ever learning...

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

On Being Mid-Atlantic; Whither Stocking Stitch? The Eggcorn!

I've lived in Canada some time, but my language often reflects my UK upbringing. Both my accent and choice of words have been described as 'mid-Atlantic'.

It's totally unconcious, "tom-aaah-to", "yog-urt", my overuse of "lovely", that sort of thing, but I do feel like I am pretty bilingual, with equal capacity to function and be aware of language on both sides of the Atlantic.

This week, however, I had a surprise...

In the last little while, I'd heard more than one knitter clearly enunciate "stocking-knit", to describe the fabric you get when knitting on one side, and purling on the other.

I asked on Twitter if this was just a mis-reading of "stockinette" (as I felt it might be), or whether it was a regional pronunciation.

A Canadian in my tweet-stream suggested that it might be a sort of portmanteau of "stocking stitch" and stockinette", a sort of compromise pronunciation, somewhere between the two. This seemed to me a reasonable answer: after all, if you're learning a word that you haven't seen written, you are led by how others say it (witness common mistakes like "I should of done my homework last night", and my confusion about the name of the Canadian film director Ruba Nadda - until I saw it written down, I honestly thought it was a man, called Rueben Atta.).  (This led to a different discussion, too, about the phenomenon of the "eggcorn".)

Anyway, I retweeted this reply about the portmanteau theory, and received a number of puzzled replies back, questioning "stocking stitch".  I was quietly amazed.

Stocking stitch is the UK term; and stockinette is the US term for this fabric. (There is debate about whether you need "stitch" after stockinette; my preference is not, e.g. "Work 10 rows stockinette, then bind off" (bind off vs. cast off is a dicussion for a different day))

I had believed that Canadians tended towards the UK usage, and that the US audience would be familiar with both terms, even if they preferred one. From the replies on Twitter, it seems like I'm totally off-base on both of those assumptions...

Brits & Canadians: What name do you use?
Americans: Have you ever encountered "stocking stitch"? Did you know what it meant before I mentioned it?

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

September: Hitting the Road with My Knitting

Good grief - how did it get to be September already?

My calendar is filling up with all sorts of excellent events this fall.

First up, this weekend, I'm at the Kitchener Waterloo Guild Knitter's Fair. I'll be prowling the floor, shopping, and spending some time with my girls in the Shall We Knit booth, signing my book. Talk about opening the season with a bang: this event is a major highlight of my year.

Amy will also be there, selling excellent new Knitty project bags. Look for me wearing my TARDIS shawl... and I bet you Kim will have some of her fab yarn in just the right colour...

The following weekend I'm off to Ancaster, to visit my friends at the Needle Emporium, to teach two classes: Cabling without a Cable Needle, and Introduction to Lace Knitting. More info here.

And the weekend of the 29th I'm off to Collingwood to Grey Heron's fall Knit Fest. I'm teaching two fun classes: Continental Knitting, and The Perfect Fit. More info here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Every part of the buffalo

I'm a sock knitter. This shouldn't come as a surprise to you.

And I have small feet - also not a surprise.

In the last few months, I've finished a pair of socks in Wollmeise Twin and Mountain Colors Bearfoot. Love both of these yarns very very much, and I loved the socks that resulted from them.

The Mountain Colors yarn I adore because it's a wool, mohair and nylon blend. Wool and nylon for wear; mohair for warmth. I anticipate that this will keep my poor feet very comfy this winter.

When I completed the pair, I weighed the leftovers, as I do, and I discovered that I had a little more than a third of the skein left.... I did a bit of thinking, and realized that I could get a pair of anklets out of the leftovers. Ideal for bed socks for the depths of winter...

so I divided the leftovers into two even balls (digital kitchen scales are very handy for this) and worked a pair of toe-up socks, working the legs until I ran out. I didn't even bother doing ribbing, just a loose cast-off at the top. The tops roll down fetchingly, and they'll keep me nice and warm in bed. I don't know that they'd stay up in my shoes, but that's not what they are for.

I had about a yard leftover total, once all four socks were done.

And as I'd blogged before, I discovered that the skeins of Wollmeise Twin are larger than usual - about 460m per 150gm skein - and that I was going to be able to squeak two pairs out of one skein. Which I did! The first pair top down, my usual, and then I divided the leftovers into two balls, and worked the second pair toe-up, until I ran out of yarn.

(Colorway is Birkenrinde, in case you're wondering.)

And a handful of yards left of this skein - it was clear that my weighing wasn't quite accurate, so to ensure that the two toe-up socks were the same length, I stopped one with a few yards of yarn left.

So: two skeins of fabulous yarn, three pairs of full socks and one pair of bed socks.

I am a happy knitter and my feet will be ready for winter.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Latest FO: The Godzilla Ridge Blanket

It may well be the best thing ever.

Go see, over at Knittyblog!

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Day of Classes at the Needle Emporium

I was the Needle Emporium this past weekend to teach some classes, and I'm pleased to report that a splendid time was had by all!

I taught two of my favourite classes: Entrelac and Finishing.

I love teaching Entrelac because it's a "stretcher" - it causes knitters of all skill levels and experience to stretch their skills. It's a fascinating technique, one that requires you to suspend your disbelief and work some pretty strange maneuvers - 'Whatdya mean I have to turn? I'm nowhere near the end of row!'. It's a great project for a newer knitter to learn some new tricks... I had a student once ask me for a project that would help her practice picking up stitches and increasing and decreasing... Entrelac is definitely it!

And it's a great project for an experienced knitter to challenge herself: it plays with a knitter's understanding of rows, and teaches some uncommon skills - pick up and purl, anyone?

I also enjoy the discussion that results about directional increases and decreases. Such fun!

Playing with the camera, I took a couple of pretty good pictures...

Here's G., a knitter of great skill and experience, pushing herself to learn some new tricks:

And here's L.'s "morning knitting class survival kit":

A good day for all concerned. Thanks to Julie for hosting, and to Beth for the cookies.