Monday, September 30, 2013

Announcing: My Craftsy Class! With Contest!

Update! The class is live!

I hinted at this a few weeks ago, but I'm now able to give you the details. In August, I flew to Denver to tape a class with Craftsy. My bag was full of FOs I'd borrowed from friends far and wide... well, finished, but not FINISHED objects.

That's because my class is all about blocking.  The whys and the wherefores.

I always get questions about blocking in my classes, and it's a topic I feel pretty passionately about - as a knitter, and as a teacher.

As a knitter, I feel passionately about blocking because I know how wonderful it is. I know that blocking is the key to making your handknits (and crocheted items, too) look truly finished.

Blocking smooths and evens about the fabric. Blocking makes it easier to put items together. Blocking shows off the patterning. Blocking makes the fabric bloom.

As a teacher, I feel passionately about blocking because I know how most knitters don't understand it, and don't feel confident about it.

Knitters hear about mats and wires and pins and get scared. It sounds hard. It's absolutely not, I promise!

My class very much focuses on a pragmatic approach to blocking. I provide easy ways to make your handknits look their best!

I'll show you how you can create amazing results with some water and a towel...

and maybe even a balloon....

But I do also talk about wires and mats and pins and when you need them, and how easy they actually are to use.

I'm so excited about it, I'm posting now, even though the class doesn't launch until Wednesday. In the meantime, I'm running a contest! Leave a comment here (before midnight EST Saturday the 5th of October) to win a free copy of the class. I'll randomly pick a number to choose a winner. (If you're commenting, make sure you log in so I know who you are, or leave me a clue to your email address, please.)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

When the "F" in "FO" stands for "Funny"

I am highly amused by my most recent FO.

The world's most absurd length of i-cord makes the world's most excellent scarf/cowl.

1 skein of Berroco Link, and 20mm (US size 35) needles. The yarn is a chain-knit wool and acrylic blend ribbon.

The pattern is here.  Cast on 4 stitches, and work in stockinette. You work a yarnover between the stitches, and drop them on the following row to make the stitches bigger. It's hysterical - looks to me like it was knitted with telephone poles.  In fact, it looks to make like how a worsted-weight scarf would look on a Barbie doll. And it look about an hour to knit.

I was given the skein of yarn by someone who didn't know what to do with it. I didn't at first, either. I was trying to be clever, and everything I did just looked wrong.

I realized that I needed to keep it simple, so I did. You can expect to see me wearing this a lot over the fall.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Distracted-By-New-Yarn Syndrome

You've heard of Second Sock Syndrome, yes?

I have a bad case of it. I'm working on a design project right now, and I absolutely love how it's turning out. Normally I'm happy to work away on the second sock, but I caused myself a little problem last weekend, at the K/W Knitter's Fair.

For a variety of reasons, I've been working with lots of dark and subdued colours over the past few months.

I've finished up a new shawl design, in black, and I can't wear it, as I need to keep it pristine for use as a display sample. I like the shawl very much, and really really want to wear it.

So I decided to make one for myself.

Now it's well known that I wear a lot of black. What you may or may not know is that when I commit to a colour, I really commit. When I do go for a colour, I tend to go for bright.

I was walking past the Waterloo Wools booth at the Fair last weekend, and a skein of yarn practically leapt off the rack at me...

Highlighter. It's yellow. Bright yellow. BRIGHT yellow A variegated blend of bright and neon yellow.

I know. As I was fondling it, people kept walking by the booth saying things like "wow... that's bright". So of course I bought it.

I kept the skein on yarn on my desk as an encouragement. If I finish the sock I can make the shawl, I thought to myself.

Just to encourage me to make progress with the sock, on Tuesday I decided to wind up the skein into a ball.  Just to see how it looked, you know.

And on Thursday afternoon, I achieved a writing objective, so I decide to cast on. Just so I could admire it. As you do.

And last night I made excellent progress on my sock.

As a reward, this morning on my commute to the Purl for a class, I decided to knit on the shawl a bit. Just a bit.

So yes, this shawl that I designed specifically to be knit in black? It's going to be in the most fantastically obnoxious variegated nearly-neon yellow in the world. AND I LOVE IT.

And the commissioned sock design I'm supposed to be working on?  I have a new plan: an inch of sock gets me an inch of shawl.

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Craft University: Socks for Beginners

Socks are my first knitting love, my true passion. If I had to give up all other kinds of knitting, I could happily knit only socks for the rest of my life.

And I love teaching sock knitting. If I had to give up all other kinds of work, I could happily teach sock knitting for the rest of my life.

I teach sock knitting a lot locally, and I've been lucky enough to travel to a few great places to teach - but there are corners of the country, the continent, the world, that I haven't yet reached.

Well, thanks to Interweave, I'm now teaching sock knitting ALL OVER THE WORLD. Heck, I hear that they have internet access on the ISS, so I'll be able to teach sock knitting there, too.

My Sock Knitting for Beginners class launches on Interweave's new Craft University platform September 30th.

What's great about this class format is that it combines a number of different tools for teaching and learning. Each class has a written "lecture" in the form of notes and instructions. There's lots of pictures, and video demonstrations. There are detailed downloadable notes for every class. And you'll get to interact me, asking me questions as you go.

There are five lessons, and we work from the ground up, on top-down socks. (I feel pretty strongly that top-down socks are the best place for a new sock knitter to start.)

We use my training sock, and work through that in the class - everything from casting on, to working in the round, to turning the heel, to the gusset, to the foot, and right to decreasing and closing the toe.

Along the way, I share lots of tips and techniques
  • how to work on DPNs & the best cast on for top-down socks
  • how to fix a twisted round
  • how to turn the heel without losing your mind (and a quick way to make sure that your stitches are safe if you do need to undo and rework it)
  • an easy way to pick up stitches
  • how to make sure socks fit well
  • how to choose good sock yarn
  • where to find good sock patterns
  • my favorite sock knitting books
  • what the deal is with Magic Loop and Two Circulars
At the end of the class, you'll have made your first two socks, and you'll have a set of notes and instructions to guide your sock knitting adventures. And you'll have your own copy of my Classic Top Down Sock pattern - sized for XS women's feet to XL men's feet, suitable for all sock yarns. This is the pattern you'll go back to again and again, for all your sock knitting needles.

If you've not worked top-down socks before, this class teaches you everything you need to know.

Come, join me!

Friday, September 13, 2013

What I'm Going to Be Up To This Fall

Some of the busy-ness this summer was prepping for activities this fall.

I love Fall - it's prime knitting and knitwear season! All those fantastic socks and fingerless mitts and sweaters.  And all those fantastic events.

I'm teaching a fair bit.

There's my usual slate of classes at Lettuce Knit and The Purple Purl in Toronto.

And then, there's
The Needle Emporium, Ancaster, September 28
Creativ Festival, Toronto, October 24 and 25
KnitCity Vancouver, October 26 and 27
Interweave Knit Lab, San Mateo, October 30-November 2.
Shall We Knit, Waterloo, November 23 and 24

And then in the new year....

Vogue Knitting Live NYC, January 16-19, 2014.
The Cooperative Press Cruise, January 25-February 1, 2014. We'll be cruising the Eastern Caribbean.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

What I've Been Up To

I've been going through a phase of late where everything I do is "sooper sekrit".

I've been editing - the Deep Fall issue of Knitty, of course, which just launched yesterday, and a book or two.

I've been working on some designs. I've been working on videos. I'm working on some new classes.

And I've not been able to say anything about anything. It's driving me mad!

One thing I can talk about is that I was at Cleveland last week for a taping of Knitting Daily TV, with Vicki Howell.

The designs and one of the videos will shortly be public, so stay tuned for that. In the meantime, here are some hints...

If you're attending the KW Knitter's Fair this Saturday, you might spot me sporting one of these new designs...