Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Godzilla Ridge

I've been hankering for a reason to knit myself another Lizard Ridge blanket for quite some time... the first one is one of my favourite FOs, and quite likely my favourite knitting project of all time.

Jennifer's invention of the Godzilla Ridge really got me thinking. I've got 6 balls of Hitsuji in my stash, and I'm teaching a Lizard Ridge class tomorrow.  

Guess what I'll be doing for my class sample?

Since I've got a single colorway (the one in the picture, by coincidence), I'm going to work it in one piece. Will cast on 85 sts for about a 36 inch wide blanket, and that yardage should give me a piece about 54 inches long.  Cannot wait to get started!

UPDATE: first row of short-row bumps complete!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Kit! Including Most Excellent Yarn and Needles

It's no secret that I love the people - and products - of Signature Needle Arts.  I am a huge fan of their DPNs, and was thrilled when they launched into circulars.

They've been incredibly supportive of me. I worked with them at the first Sock Summit, demoing their needles in their booth.

From the very first moment that Cathy heard I was writing a book, she said she was looking forward to reading it.  And then when she read it, she said such wonderful things about it.

And now, I'm honoured that they've put together a kit! for one of my book projects! A kit for the cabled scarf.  The scarf is an excellent way to practice your cable knitting, and is a great gift or a stylish winter warmer for yourself.

The package includes a digital copy of the book, a skein of  the fab Miss Babs Yowza! yarn in a exclusive, gorgeous pewter colour, and naturally, the Signature needle (and cable needle!) required to make the scarf.  (And here's a bonus: there's enough yarn in the skein that you could make the matching hat, too!)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Casting Off Loosely & Driving Carefully

The instruction to "cast off" ("bind off" for those south of the border) loosely is one we see a lot in knitting patterns.

Heck, I've used it myself.  

But it always makes me laugh a bit.  It's the knitter's equivalent of "Drive Carefully".  (When offered this helpful piece of advice by my Mum, my middle brother would always reply "Oh, ok", in a slightly surprised tone of voice.  As if to say, wow, I hadn't thought of that, thanks.)

I think every knitter would agree that it's good to bind off loosely, just as it is to drive carefully.  But it's easier said than done.  

The very nature of the standard cast off is that that it tends to be tight... the process of lifting the first stitch over the second causes it to tighten up.  

M., a very seasoned knitter, was swatching yesterday for a new project.  Her swatch is a perfect example of something I see all the time.. 

Even stitches, a nice relaxed cast on. But the swatch isn't square - and very obviously so - because the cast off edge is tight, and it pulls the stitches in.

There are special cast offs for special situations: the Russian lace (third one down on the page), for lace; Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy, which really comes into its own for toe-up socks, and EZ's sewn bind off (last one on the page), which is a bit fiddly but worth it for garter stitch edges in lace.

These are terrific, and immensely stretchy. Too stretchy, in fact, for everyday purposes. Too stretchy a bind off causes the opposite problem: a flared out edge that won't lie flat.

But often, when you're knitting a straight piece, you really just need a little bit more stretchiness - and the simplest way to get that is to use a larger needle.

That's it. Just use a larger needle in your right hand to work the stitches on the cast off row. And not just one size - several sizes larger. For example, when I'm binding off a piece worked on 4.5mm (US 7) needles, I will use a 6mm (US 10) needle. This makes the stitches too big, but then when lifted over, they snug down to a nice and appropriate size, while keeping them even.

Simple and magic - my favourite kind of knitting trick!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

More Travelling: Needle Emporium in Ancaster

Very happy to announce that I'm back at the Needle Emporium in Ancaster, April 14th.

Two classes: The Baby Surprise Jacket, and the Two-Socks-In-One War & Peace Method.

More info here.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Upcoming Events: Collingwood, Florida and Uxbridge, Oh My!

(Well, ok, the Florida event is virtual, but a girl can dream, can't she?

This coming Thursday at noon EST I'm going to be participating in a live online chat event with Beth of Planet Purl. We're going to be talking about my book, and the experience of learning and growing your skills, whether as a new or an experienced knitter. I'll share some tips and stories, and tell you about the actual conversation that inspired the section in my book titled "I Learned to Knit Last Week, Am I Ready For Socks?".

Join us online, here!

During the event, we'll be giving away a copy of the book.

Saturday March 31st, I'm going to be heading up to Collingwood with fellow teacher and designer Glenna C, to teach at the Grey Heron Natural Designs Spring KnitFest.

The KnitFest is a one-day extravaganza of knitting and homemade cookies. I'll be teaching two classes: my Entrelac scarf class, and my Expert Tips class - also known as "Everything You Wanted To Know About Knitting but Were Afraid to Ask".  Glenna will be teaching a lace class and colourwork class.

All classes include yarn and patterns, there are free draws and a delicious lunch. A vendor market provides shopping fun, including yarns and goodies from Cabin Fever, Brown Sheep, Shelridge Farms and others.

More details here.

And April 19th I'll be at On the Lamb in Uxbridge, Ontario, to teach my Continental Class and to give my Knitter's Dirty Tricks presentation. Apparently, there will be cupcakes. Details here.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

"The Safety Pint"

As you probably know, I do a fair bit of technical editing of knitting patterns. This is work I love very much.

As a technical editor (and an opinionated one at that), I'm always a little nervous when I send one of my own patterns for editing. I worry that I'm going to make a silly mistake, totally destroying my credibility.

Last year I designed a pattern for the IndigoDragonfly Smart-Ass Knitters club.    As is sensible, Kim sent my pattern off to a tech editor. The report was that it all ok, except for a rather strange item in the materials list - I was asking that the knitter have, in addition to needles, yarn, stitch markers, a "safety pint".

That's not the funny part... Both Kim and the tech editor decided they needed to confirm this with me. Apparently, they wouldn't put it past me to suggest that the knitter have a beer at hand. You know, just in case.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Throwing a Retirement Party for a Knitting Needle?

World, meet Mr. Pointy...

Mr. Pointy is the first "grown-up" knitting needle I bought. He's a 16 inch 4.5mm Inox metal circular. I bought him in the early 1990s, at Romni Wools in Toronto.

Until then, I'd been using needles acquired from Mum, or inexpensive needles acquired from mainstream craft shops (remember Lewiscraft?).

Until then, I'd been knitting flat.

I'm not sure which project I bought the needle for - I suspect it might have been the kitten hat.

I do recall that Mr. Pointy seemed expensive at the time.


When I think about how many thousands and thousands of metres of yarn have been worked with this needle, even $1000 would have been a bargain.

When I bought this needle, I was still a cubicle dweller. I was a novice knitter, keen to learn more. When I bought this needle, I couldn't have dreamed how far I would come. How far we would come together, Mr.  Pointy and I.

I've used this needle just about every week since then. Before I was a knitting teacher, I used him for hats and scarves and sweaters and blankets. He's the perfect needle for me to knit worsted weight - my favourite weight of yarn (other than sock, of course). Since I started teaching almost ten years ago, he has lived in my knitting toolkit as my sample needle. Whenever I've needed to do a demo of a technique - of a cast on, a decrease, an increase, a cast off. When designing a range of hats, I used him. I used him to knit some of the samples for my book.

Of late, Mr. Pointy has been showing his age. One of his needles is at an odd angle, and one of the tips is a bit rough, catching on my yarn.

It's time that Mr. Pointy be retired, I think. He's been a loyal employee, I feel like I should throw him a party...

Thanks, Mr. Pointy - we've come a long way together.