Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Knit City Vancouver

I'm thrilled to announce that I'm heading to Vancouver October 13 & 14 to teach at the first Knit Social Knit City event.

More details on workshops to follow, but if you're on the west coast, I'd love to see you....

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Book Errata

As is always the way, mistakes crept into my book. We had a couple of photo captions go astray, a number added where it shouldn't have been, another couple of numbers go astray, and a few of typos.  We're sorry!

If you bought the physical copy, download this errata list from the Cooperative Press site.

If you bought a digital copy, you will receive an update.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Bigger on the Inside: TARDIS scarves old and new

Thrilled!  Just plain thrilled with the response to my TARDIS scarf pattern as published on Knitty.

Amazing pic of Amelia Pond's travelling kit courtesy of the lovely Natalie Selles.

Huge thanks to Jillian and Amy for inspiration and support during the design process. And how good is the colorway, form Lorna's Laces?  It's the perfect TARDISy blue.

A question that's been asked a fair bit... the pattern suggests two skeins of yarn... you could get it out of one, but you might need to shorten the edging a bit....

And did you see my fab new headshot, taken by the lovely Amy?

The scarf in that shot is actually the second Doctor Who scarf Mum knitted for me. The first one got pretty bedraggled, and so she knit a replacement. It's a precious thing - a key part of my personal and my knitting history.

Now that I'm a knitter, I understand a little better the work that went into an 8-foot scarf worked in (k1, p1) ribbing. She must really really love me.

Thanks Mum for those original scarves!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

FO & pattern: C.B., the Flat Bear

Meet C.B., also known as Flat Bear.

A student brought a version of this pattern to a class recently, and I fell in love. It's a classic church bazaar pattern, and very similar to the “Trauma Teddy” pattern distributed by the New Zealand and Australian Red Cross organizations (a version here, with jaunty stripes, and another here, info about the program here). I don’t know that the copyright belongs to anyone – this is my transcription of the pattern, with additional notes. There are plenty of others floating around online, and on dog-eared photocopied handouts, like this one... (click to embiggen)

I worked up a sample using some scrap yarn and knitted him a scarf.  C.B. (stands for "church bazaar" ;-) ) is a very easy project - worked entirely in garter stitch - and a fun way to dip your toe into toy knitting.  The only thing that can be considered evenly slightly tricky is the sewing up, but even that's not too bad. Flat Bear would also be an ideal project for new knitters - especially young ones - given how quick the project is.

And if you've recently taken a class on Continental knitting (you know who you are, friends of On the Lamb), then he's a great way to practice.

3.5mm needles – straight or short circular
worsted weight yarn – about 25gm
a scrap of contrast color fingering weight yarn for embroidery
contrasting color sock yarn and 2.5mm needles for optional scarf
stuffing – polyester fibrefill or wool roving

If worked with worsted weight yarn, finished bear measures about 5 ½ inches tall. 
Gauge isn’t critical, but you do want a nice dense fabric to hold the stuffing in. You can use any yarn you have lying around – just use needles a couple of sizes smaller than recommended for that yarn.

Cast on 8 stitches and knit 16 rows. Leave sts on needle or slip to a holder.
Make a second leg the same way, leaving the sts on the needle.

Knit across both legs and work 8 rows total. 16 sts.

Arms – First Side
Cast on 8 stitches at beginning of next 2 rows.  32 sts.
Knit 8 rows.

Cast off 8 stitches at beginning of next 2 rows.  16 sts.
Knit 38 rows.

Arms – Second Side
Cast on 8 stitches at beginning of next 2 rows.  32 sts.
Knit 8 rows.

Cast off 8 stitches at beginning of next 2 rows. 16 sts.
Knit 8 rows.

Working only on the first 8 stitches, knit 16 rows. Cast off.
Return to remaining 8 stitches and knit 16 rows. Cast off.

Fold knitted piece in half at middle of head. The fold becomes the top of the head.

Seam around teddy, leave a small gap between the legs. Stuff and close the final opening

Backstitch a diagonal line across corner of head to form ears, and embroider a.

Run yarn around neck, going in and out every few stitches. Draw to tighten and secure.  Weave in ends.

Optional scarf
With fingering weight yarn and 2.5mm needles, cast on 6 sts. Work in garter stitch until piece measures approx 18 inches. Cast off.  Tie jauntily around neck.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

New Design: Miss Otis Regrets

Miss Otis Regrets not buying a second skein of that fabulous hand-dyed cashmere.

Miss Otis Regrets keeping that bag of leftover sock yarn.

Miss Otis Regrets not spinning enough of that glorious laceweight silk blend.

We've all got them, these knitterly Regrets, all with the same result: a small quantity of a beautiful yarn, and no idea what to do with it.

This scarf grew from an obsession with a lace edging pattern I found in Barbara Walker's Second Treasury of Knitting patterns, the Grand Eyelet Edging.  I was swatching with it, over the Easter weekend (while enjoying an inspiring snack) and it became evident that it was more than just edging material - it has enough personality to star as the stitch pattern for a scarf.  It looks a little like crochet to my mind, and it's somewhat unexpected.

And after a bit of planning and thinking, I realized that it would make a nice little kerchief with a surprisingly small yardage.

And so I dug in my stash for one of those regrets - a single skein of Koigu - and started knitting. A single skein of Koigu sock yarn - 170yds! - gives a perfect little kerchief for wearing with a spring coat.

Who doesn't have a single skein of Koigu at the bottom of the stash? Or a single skein of that Handmaiden Cashmere? Or half a skein of laceweight? It's adaptable to any yarn and any yardage, as it's one of those work-until-the-skein-is-halfway-used-up sideways triangles.

Suitable for knitters with some lace experience, as there's fun but possibly slightly challenging multiple yarnovers. Pattern includes detailed advice on yarn selection and substitution, and both written and charted instructions are provided.

Available on Ravelry and Patternfish.

One of my test knitters used 25gm of some wonderful handspun laceweight on 3mm needles, and she got a piece about 48 by 10 inches.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Another Signature Kit

Knit socks the way I do! With Signature 2.5mm DPNs and Lorna's Laces sock yarn!

Signature have released another fab kit.

Beyond Knit & Purl blog tour

In the next little while, I'm doing a blog tour. You'll see my name pop up on various blogs around the internets, talking about my book.  There will be interviews, funny stories, reviews, and the odd giveaway...

First up, "Go Knit In Your Hat". Thanks Carol!

Thursday, April 05, 2012

"Chart for Multiple Increases and Decreases"

I had a great time this week speaking at the Around the Bay Knitters' Guild, in Dundas, Ontario. We had a fun discussion on Sizing and Fit.

The most interesting part of the evening, however, was a handout offered to the rest of the membership by the lovely and clever Anne, a long-standing member of the group.

The handout is the Machine Knitter's "Chart for Multiple Increases and Decreases".  It's a very clever sheet that provides a mostly math-free way of figuring out how to evenly distribute decreases across a row.  It's not quite as simple for increases, but for decreases it's handy and rather amusing.

Click on the image to see a larger version.

It's all based on the ratio of target sts to original sts: divide the smaller number by the bigger number. That is, if you have 100 sts and you need to decrease to 50, the ratio is 50/100, which is .5 (or 1/2 if you like thinking in fractions). If you look up .5 in the table, you'll see that it lists a little two-legged stool symbol. That's a machine knitting symbol for a single decrease. For handknitters, read that as k2tog.

So to take any group of 100 sts and reduce it to 50, just repeat k2tog across the row.  Simple! And this works for any set of sts you want to decrease that ratio - cutting the number of sts in half.

And if you have 100 sts and need 90, 90/100 = .9. And so looking at the table entry for .9, you see k2tog, and 8 vertical line symbols - read those as just k1. And indeed, if you repeat (k2tog, k8) across, 100 sts will be reduced to 90.

Clever, eh? The only math is a quick division, easy on a calculator or phone (or a reduction to a fraction if you're numerically inclined). And then just look up the resulting number and read the line.

The three-legged stool symbol is a double decrease, e.g. s2kpo. If you have 60 sts and want to reduce it to 20, the fraction is 2/6 = 1/3 = .33, and therefore the instruction is double decrease. And if you have a group of 60 sts and work double decreases all the way across, you'll get 20 sts. And it applies if you've got 30 sts and want to reduce to 10, or 120 sts and want to reduce to 40 - as the result of the division is always the same.

The original sheet credits Kit Way Nee of the Ottawa Machine Knitters Club, and apparently it was printed in Carriage Trade, a machine knitter's magazine published in the 1980s and 1990s. Thanks much to Anne and her friends at the Guild for sharing it with me!

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Grey Heron Spring Knit Fest: A Splendid Time, with lunch!

Last Saturday morning, I hit the road with Glenna C. to head up to teach at Grey Heron's annual Knit Fest mini-retreat in Collingwood.

It was an early start, and we prepped for it in the traditional manner:

Although the staff at the Tim Horton's on the outskirts of Barrie seemed a bit flummoxed by my request for an espresso, they did figure out how to make me one with their newfangled coffee machine, and they even managed to find a little cup to put it in!  It wasn't an espresso, precisely, but it was reasonably tasty and entirely drinkable.  

Glenna and I both taught two classes, in a charming country hall.

I taught Entrelac to a group of adventurous knitters, including the fabulous Doreen who told me that mastering the technique was on her bucket list. I think by the end of the day she had it crossed off!

And in the afternoon I taught my "Expert Tips" class, which is always fun. The goal is to address as many questions as I can, to tackle all the things that knitters wonder about as they work, to dispel a few common myths and misconceptions, and to provide a few tips and some of my trademark "filthy cheats" to make knitting easier and more fun.

I think I changed a few lives by converting some knitters from the knit to the cable cast-on, I entertained with my "decreases as interpretive dance" routine, and blew a few minds with my M1Z and demonstrations of the magic of mattress stitch.

A splendid day indeed.

There are nice summaries of the day on Karen's blog and on Brenda's blog. Thanks to both of them, and all my new friends in Collingwood, for such a wonderful day. And a bonus thank you to Karen's husband Jim, who provided a generous and delicious home-cooked lunch.