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!