Monday, May 27, 2013

The Very Definition of Intrepid Knitter

Knitter K. recently took my class on Knitting Two Socks on Two Circulars, just before she left on a cycling vacation.

She wound up two balls of yarn, threw them in her backpack, and got on her bike. She cast on as she started on her trek in the Czech Republic, and as she cycled into Hungary, the heels were done and now she's into the foot.

Love it! I look forward to the follow-up photo, of her wearing the socks on her bike.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

KnitEdge Magazine - My Sock Column

I'm proud to have published my two books with Cooperative Press, the brainchild of KnitGrrl herself, Shannon Okey. Shannon's latest fabulous initiative is Knit Edge magazine. A digital magazine, Knit Edge brings together the best in new and modern design, and columnists on a broad array of topics.

Shannon has been kind... brave?... foolish? enough to give me a column - Wisehilda on Socks.

See a preview of one of my columns here, on the Knit Edge blog...

Shannon's also offering a special discount for subscribers for my readers: $3 off a full year subscription with the coupon code "wisehilda" if you sign up for a year here... Yes, that's right - 3 issues for $11.99, saving you nearly 6 dollars off the per-issue price!

But it's not just about me. Shannon has assembled some great talent to work on the magazine, and designers in the current issue include Brenda Castiel, Elinor Brown and Joelle Hoverson. Designers like Annie Modesitt, Sarah Wilson and Lara Neel have been in previous issues. To see the designs in the new issue, look at Ravelry. Back issue patterns are here.

In the inaugural issue, I talked about how to get started with sock knitting. But I'm not afraid to tackle the controversial topics: In Issue 1, I discussed the whys and wherefores and the pros and cons of toe-up vs. top down. And Issue #2 was all about the various needle configurations - DPNs vs. Magic Loop vs. Two circulars, as you can see in the excerpt above. In the latest issue, I talk about yarns for sock knitting.

Are there topics you'd like to see discussed? Questions you want answered about the world of sock knitting? Bones you want to pick with me...
Yes, that's right, I don't graft the toes of my socks... wanna fight about it?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Sea-going Shenanigans with the Cooperative Press team!

It's true! We're going to the Caribbean and we'd love to take you with us. Join CP authors me me me me me!!, the very clever and very talented lace designer Anna Dalvi and the inimitable Shannon Okey for 7 days in the Caribbean next January. Price includes 3 whole days of knitting classes, too -- no hidden fees.

We leave from Miami January 25th, 2014. Can I just point out that that's January... and it doesn't snow in Miami or on a cruise ship in the Caribbean? If it's usually snowing where you usually are in January, you might want to consider joining us...

Click the image above to email Linda of Viva Spain Travel, who is organizing the travel arrangements for this cruise.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

A long weekend, knitter-style...

Sunny patio brunch, with knitting.

Roadtrip, with knitting.

Friday, May 17, 2013

'Magic Socks' Online Class: Learn the War & Peace method in the comfort of your own home!

I'm thrilled to announce the launch of my first online video class - "Magic Socks" with Annie's. This sock teaches you the secrets of working two socks at once, using the double knitting method, also known as the "War and Peace" method. It's so-called, is it's mentioned - somewhat oddly, in passing - in his masterwork novel, War and Peace.

If you've ever wanted to learn the War and Peace method of making 2 socks at once, but were a little intimidated - this class is for you!

If you've ever wanted to take one of my classes in person but haven't been able to - this class is for you!

If you want to be able to rewatch my lessons over and over again - this class is for you!

Join me as I explain and demonstrate this seemingly magical technique step-by-step using two different colours of yarn so you can see exactly how to knit each separate sock on the same needles. As is my way, instructions are given for double-point needles, magic loop and 2 circular needles.

To make the project a little more manageable and accessible for online learning, we're using DK weight yarn, and it's a simplified sock construction, with a short-row heel and a simple star toe. Once you've mastered that, you'll be ready to tackle other versions, including the full-on fingering-weight gusseted-heel directional-decreases version!

This was my first experience doing a video class, and it was an enormous amount of fun. It was definitely challenging at times... where am I supposed to look? what was I saying? is there more coffee?... but I dearly love teaching, and I'm so happy that my classes can reach a broader audience.

The class is $24.95, and you can watch a free preview of the class at the website.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

New Design: Asking for Flowers

A sideways shawl with biasing garter stitch makes for a beautiful drape, and a dramatic Shetland lace edging adds interest to the knitting – but not too much – and to the finished product. Short-row wedges create a nice curved shape.

I used Rhichard Devrieze's wonderful hand-dyed 100% merino fingering weight yarn. The colourway, “The Flowers” brings to mind all the joys of a summer garden – wear the shawl in the spring, to hasten the arrival of the season, and in the winter, to remind you of the glories to come.

Suitable for knitters with a little lace experience, but you don’t need to be an expert!

Uses a bit less than 3 skeins of the yarn - about 550yds - and the finished item is 62 inches wide, and 20 inches deep.

More info on Ravelry, or

Also available on Patternfish.

Thanks much to Claude La Rue for the terrific photography!

Monday, May 13, 2013

New Design Coming Soon: Asking for Flowers

Thanks to Claude LaRue for the photography.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

On Magic Loop and Two Circulars

If you've taken a sock knitting class with me, you've likely heard this "mini rant" from me before.

Although I learned to knit socks on DPNs, and that remains my needle configuration of choice, I recognize that there are other ways to do it: Magic Loop and Two Circulars. I recently wrote a blog post for my friends at Signature Needle on precisely that topic... using circular needles to work small circumferences in the round.

Some knitters aren't comfortable with DPNs, and in some situations, DPNs aren't ideal. If you're travelling, for example, you really don't want to be in position to lose a needle.

Magic Looping a sock

I feel pretty strongly that although which method you use is a point of personal preference, there is no difference in the methods. It's like whether you hold your pen in your right or left hand. What results is still words on paper, so why should we worry about the difference in how you get it done?

With different needles, you still get socks (or mittens, or the tops of hats, or sleeves, or what-have-you), so it shouldn't matter what needles you use.

This informs a key piece of my pattern writing and editing strategy... I believe that where possible, patterns should be "needle agnostic". We don't distinguish if you're working flat on straights or circulars, so why should we distinguish if you're working on DPNs or magic loop or two circulars?

But it's amazing how many patterns - indeed, I think most of them - still distinguish. But I believe pretty strongly that you're cutting off a piece of your market that way. If a pattern is written for DPNs, a magic looper might not be able (or want) to do the work to think through how to make it work 'their way'... I've seen DPN-knitters avoid a DPN pattern because it uses five rather than the four they're used to. This saddens me - I want everyone to be able to knit everything!

I do absolutely recognize that your first sock (or mitten, or whatever) pattern needs information on how to arrange the stitches, just to get you familiar with the process and structure. But once you've done one or two, then you should be able to work however you want, without being constrained by how the designer did it.

Call me an idealist, but if I ran the world, knitters could use whatever needles they want, and the patterns would allow that!

Thursday, May 02, 2013

The DKC Frolic; Fantastic?

As always, it's such a good time. The event is a major highlight of the year for me, and not just because it's at the start of the summer.... but because of the shopping and the classes and the people.

I was pretty busy this year, with four fun classes.

I ended the weekend with a gang of intrepid knitters, teaching the War and Peace socks. I love this class, as it's a fabulous challenge and fun experience - not nearly as hard as it seems, and at the same time much more fun and much cooler.

As for shopping, I didn't have a ton of time, but I did manage to add to my book collection. As a designer, I love stitch libraries for inspiration, and I picked up another Japanese stitch libraryfrom Marsha at the Needle Arts Book Shop. I also got a booklet of wonderful vintage lace designs.

But the highlights came from Kim and Ron of indigodragonfly - not only my own colourway! - but also this GENIUS button, destined to be loved and worn by knitting designers and teachers everywhere.

It stands for "Knit a fantastic gauge swatch". Or perhaps "Knit a fair-sized gauge swatch". Or whatever "f" word you might wish to substitute....

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

I've Made It! I've Made It!

Lovely readers, do you know indigodragonfly yarns?

Kim and Ron, the geniuses behind the company, are known for their beautiful yarns, their fantastic colours - but perhaps most of all, they are known for their hilarious, bizarre and yet always apt colour names.

Their names are often inspired by pop culture - there's a Buffy series, a Firefly series, a High Fidelity series - and sometimes just by ridiculous things people say.

And I'm proud to announce that I am one of those people that has said ridiculous things... a ridiculous thing that gets it own yarn!

When I did a design for Kim's project club, I carefully wrote up the pattern, and submitted it to her chosen tech editor for review - the eminently sensible Jaya.

I often use a safety pin in my lace projects, as a way to mark the right side of the fabric.

But I often type faster than I think....

So instead of "safety pin" I typed "safety pint".

That in itself is funny enough.

But with me being a relatively well-known tech editor with a passion for precision, and it being a design for Kim's club (where strange things have been known to happen), the typo stopped Jaya in her tracks.

She actually contacted Kim to check whether it was a typo, or whether I actually meant it...

We've been laughing about this ever since.  It's become a short-hand for "beware: this is the sort of pattern that might drive you to drink".

And when Kim was creating new colours for this spring, she and her team created a truly fantastic orange. The sort of orange I adore wearing and knitting. My favourite colour!

And so:

"Safety Pin or Safety Pint: Discuss"