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  • knitting1105 8:00 am on February 26, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Shetland Islands   

    Always new things 

    Even though I have enough to spin for quite some time, I can’t seem to stop purchasing the Fiber Optic rovings.  Kimber keeps coming out with these amazing color combinations, and they are irresistible, and only occasionally available.  So, I must stock up, mustn’t I?

    This is a Once in a Lifetime color (meaning it was an experiment and is not formulated to be repeated).  It is a blend of 40% Merino, 40% Baby Camel, and 20% Silk top.  I wish that you all could feel how incredibly soft this is.  I think that this will be next on my wheel after the Southern Cross Fiber is finished.


    And this is Wensleydale, a wool breed that I have never spun before.  It is called Evil Queen, because it darkened up in unplanned spots during the processing, she was looking for a Queen’s Red on the fibers.  I love the variation.  Again, a one-off.


    Lastly, the latest of the great gradient braids, this one is called Honey to Fig.  How could I ever resist this?  Very pretty colors, and like always, very difficult to capture with the camera.  Her colors are so intense and rich.


    I also purchased this book, Colors of Shetland by Kate Davies.  It is a history of the Shetland Islands, intermingled with the author’s Shetland inspired designs.  The photography is amazing, and the history is fascinating.  I am not sure that I am drawn to any of the knitted items at this time, but maybe in the future.




  • knitting1105 8:20 am on February 17, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Money to burn 

    I had several gift certificates that were due to expire on the 15th of this month, part of our local downtown Holiday shopping rewards program.  I always seem to wait until the last-minute to spend them.  It is amazing how hard it can be to spend money when you have to.

    I started at the local bookstore, and bought this edition of Piecework Magazine (a Historical Knitting issue, I need to subscribe to this magazine), then went in several other stores.  It hit upon me that there was a local yarn store, I never shop there as our tastes in yarn are not the same and I am seriously trying to knit up what I have on hand (let’s just ignore those 2 sock clubs, and the fiber that I am acquiring and spinning…).  I thought about needles, and heard that they carry KnitPicks needles now, having never tried them, I thought that this would be a good opportunity.  I am always on the hunt for #1 double points, so I went in and purchased a KnitPick set and a set of my favorite Lantern Moon’s both in size 1 dpn’s.  That still left money, so I got myself these Sterling silver hoop earrings.  Fun, fun.  I shall review both the magazine and needles next week.  The earrings are on my ears now, light and airy, love them.

  • knitting1105 6:21 pm on February 6, 2012 Permalink | Reply

    The Principles of Knitting 

    I really do not need another knitting reference book.  That doesn’t mean that I will not purchase one, especially when I was in my local independent bookstore, and the owner (also a knitter), pulled out this book and asked if I had seen the reprint.  Seen the reprint, no, I was not even aware of the original.  Apparently this has been an out-of-print reference book (original publication date 1988) that was gaining legendary status and equally large prices on eBay.  By the time that I was really buying knitting books, this was already out of print.  This is not just another reprint by the publishing company with one or two new photos, it is a complete re-write by the original author, June Hemmons Hiatt.   The original data for a reprint was lost, and she was not interested in scanning the book for a facsimile edition.  Instead, she spent 10 years typing the text back into her computer, and in the process rewriting chapters, and adding information.  The book is approximately 100 pages longer than the original (now at 650 pages not including the reference section).  The book is broken down into 8 sections, containing 33 chapters.

    • Learning and Methods
    • Constructing a Fabric
    • Decorative Techniques
    • Special Fabrics
    • Stitch and Color Patterns
    • Pattern Design
    • Materials
    • Working a Project

    The graphics are mostly simple 2-color drawings, with a few photos.  Definitely not a browsing book, this is truly a reference book.  One that will take me quite some time to delve into.

    If you want a preview of the book, this link will show some sample pages that you can read.

    • Lisa 7:06 pm on February 6, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I was trying for years to get my hands on one. The waiting list at the library was long and I only was able to get my hands on it once. I knew it was being reprinted, and am happy to see it happened. Now to find my own copy.


    • Barbara 5:05 am on February 7, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I’m sure you do need another knitting reference book if it’s this one. I am so pleased that it’s being reissued – I borrowed a copy a while ago and found it full of really useful and insightful material. She desn’t take anyone else’s word for anything – she tries everything out for herself, so you can rely on what she says. Thanks for the info about the reissue.


    • Debbie 2:13 pm on February 9, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I am surprised that there isn’t more buzz in the on-line knitting community about the release of this book! By the time I became a serious knitter in the mid ’90’s, this book was already out of print, and it could only be purchased on the secondary market. Most knitters that have the original think that it is the ultimate knitting reference book.


  • knitting1105 10:49 am on January 9, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    The Perfect Rib 

    The difference between something that is home-made and hand-crafted lays in the small details and finishing.  Years ago I took a class where we used a self-published book by Janet Szabo called  The “I Hate to Finish Sweaters” Guide to Finishing Sweaters.  A quick Amazon search showed that this is still available.  My favorite chapter is #1, Finishing Before You Start.  I think that is the key to a really well-crafted article.  Read the pattern, and look where improvements can be made, how it is seamed up, how increases are done.  Most patterns lend themselves to some type of improvement, it simply requires reading the pattern through and thinking about the construction.

    My favorite improvement to make is to do a tubular cast-on for the ribbing at the bottom and the cuffs (or a tubular bind-off if working top down).  It gives a very elastic, smooth edge.  I remember the first time that I saw this used on a finished garment, I was biting at the bit to learn the technique, as it looked like the ribbing on a commercial garment, with a smooth rounded over edge.  To learn how I do my tubular cast-on, read this previous post.

    This is a new baby sweater that I am making, using one of my Dale of Norway patterns, and my favorite baby yarn, Baby Ull by Dale of Norway.  I have the bottom of the body and one sleeve started.  The interesting color-work comes at the yoke, so it is a lot of plain knitting right now, which works great for playing Scrabble, watching my new Modern Family DVD’s that my daughter got me for Christmas, or late night after-wine knitting.

  • knitting1105 11:34 am on December 28, 2011 Permalink | Reply

    Ohio Knitting Mills 

    A friend gave me this book for Christmas.  I found myself reading this cover-to-cover until it I was finished.

    It is a great history of one of the US’s larger knitting mills, and the fashions and trends that they followed over the 70+ years of business.  I loved both the story and the styles that evolved.

    And there are 26 reinterpretations of Mill samples into patterns for hand knitters.

    Many of the patterns in the book were interesting to both me and my daughter.  I have not looked closely at the pattern directions and how they are written up to know if they are done well or not.  The author is not a knitter (seems that knitters helped to recreate some of the patterns), but stumbled upon the treasure trove of samples when the factory was liquidating and closing up.  He chose to not just sell off some of the samples, but to delve into the history and people behind this largely successful business.  Alas, like most of our manufacturing, cheaper imports were eventually just too hard to compete with.


  • knitting1105 10:40 am on September 1, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Qiviut,   

    Stitches Midwest 2011 

    Stitches Midwest was last weekend,  I did not sign up for any classes, as I have been preoccupied with taking spinning classes in lieu of knitting classes.  There are not many knitting classes that I wish to take any more, and I am saving those times for my Guild options.  Originally, I was not going to even go out to the market at Stitches, as I had just been at the Michigan Fiber Fest, and will be attending the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival in about a week.  Those places are mainly for fiber though, and I was curious if there were any really interesting new designs, yarn, or books that I must have.  Also, Fiber Optic had a booth there, and I do love seeing her hand dyed rovings first-hand.  Friday I drove out by myself, I could not find a companion, and was alone for the weekend and wanted some things to occupy me.  I started at one side of the market and walked around.  The first booth I came to was selling Qiviut and Qiviut blends.  Beautiful stuff, I still miss my qiviut and wool sweater that I believe I left in NYC.  Methodically, I walked through the market and looked at all of the booths.   Disappointing is really the only word that I have for the market in general.  When they started these retreats, there was not as much competition, and I did not find the amazing “must-knit” articles that I had seen in previous years.  Many of the booths had “Indie dyers”, who should have really restricted themselves to applying Koolaid to just their own fibers.  Really disappointing vendors, and several that were hawkish, county fair-like.  The Fiber Optic booth was near the end of my first pass, and ogled over several of the options, but wisely decided that I already had plenty of her stuff to spin up, and that stashing is not necessary.  She carries a large selection at the different fiber festivals, or I can join her fiber club again.  Her online shop just sells out too quickly, and it becomes a buying frenzy.

    I did find one amazing book that I had not seen any other place, The Haapsula Shawl

    The cover is light and airy, much like the Estonian Shawls that it features.  This is a beautiful book, even if you are not a knitter.

    After finding this book, I went back to the Qiviut booth and purchased 2 skeins of beautiful grey-green 50% qiviut, 50% silk lace weight yarn from Windy Valley Musk Ox.  Qiviut is from the underbelly of the Musk Ox, this description from their website:

    “Eight times warmer than wool and finer than cashmere, qiviut is hypoallergenic and will not shrink. Extremely rare, it is one of the most luxurious fibers you can choose for a garment. In contrast to wool, qiviut is soft, non-irritating to the skin, and is very durable. Qiviut garments are worn for years and can be hand washed in mild detergent. It does not shed, is odorless and retains warmth even when wet. It is an extremely warm, yet lightweight fiber that preserves heat in the winter, while also providing cool, breathable comfort in warmer weather.”

    The price is reflected in the rarity of the yarn, but I will keep that to myself.  Now to find the perfect pattern for this yarn.

  • knitting1105 11:42 am on June 23, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Carless in Chicago 

    I am ending week 2 of my summer without a car.  We decided to give my son our car to take to college for the summer, as he needs to come home to check in with work periodically, and it was definitely cheaper than buying him a used one.  His campus is really sleepy during the summer, and this allows him to find a frisbee team to play with.  My summer school class was cancelled, and I work from home.  We thought that this would be pretty easy, and a challenge to see how we can live without a car for a few weeks.  My husband takes the train to work, and can go to the Farmer’s Market in the city twice a week, and we rode our bikes to the local market last weekend.  I can walk to the pet store, my knitting night, and supplies for the house.  What has proven to be the most difficult are getting to a free ATM, going to the gym (I will use my Groupon for the local yoga studio next month instead) securing wine (no location within walking distance), and the organic veggies that are not in season yet at the Farmer’s Market.  I will admit to cheating a bit, as we will stock up on the occasional weekend that he is home.

    Not having a car has also meant that when I am bored, I cannot hop into the car and go out on errands or shopping.  So, more knitting and spinning opportunities.  I will admit that I have less face time with people, which has it’s good and bad points.  When I am feeling a bit squirrely here, I take Lloyd out for a walk, so we are both benefitting.

    I am almost finished with the Roxanne shawl.  I will reserve my judgement on this until it is blocked.  The instructions are not the best at the moment, but it was a mystery KAL where the designer was trying out a new pattern.  Other mystery KAL’s that I have tried have been much more organized and clearer though.  I have to bind off, the instructions for that part were really confusing.  I think that I figured it out after letting it mull around in my mind for a couple of days.

    I caved when I was purchasing my pressure canner from Amazon, and bought the book Knit Your Own Royal Wedding.  It was just too funny, not sure that I will knit from it, but it was not too expensive.  And here is the funniest video using all of these handknit dolls.

    The photos are so cute, I don’t know how she captured the personalities so well:

    Try as I might though, I could not get Camilla to come in clearly.

    And here is my current spinning.  I need to get this plyed, as I am off to spinning classes all weekend at the Midwest Fiber and Folk Festival.

    • Mimi 10:56 am on June 27, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      I hear ya on the carless deal. I have spent most of my life carless but even for me it becomes a challenge at times. I also think it’s hilarious that you caved and bought the royal wedding! I of course have to point you to a story about the group of librarians in Washington who knit the wedding:


      • knitting1105 11:16 am on June 27, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        Of course a bunch of wild and crazy knitters would make this! I bet it was quite the hit.


  • knitting1105 9:40 pm on March 17, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Knit your own Royal Wedding 

    Yes, you too can take part in the “Wedding of the Century” by knitting your own version, in wool of course (and if you really care).  Thanks to Barbara of ReKnitting for posting this.  Fiona Goble has written a book with directions for all the major players.  Gave me a laugh on a tough day.

    And there is even this video of the knitted wedding ceremony.  A humorous article about this book was written up in the Daily Telegraph.

    Might just be worth getting just for a knit book collectors item…

  • knitting1105 9:21 pm on August 9, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    EZ’s Birthday 

    Today is Elizabeth Zimmerman’s 100th birthday.  For the non-knitters who occasionally read this blog, let me give you a bit of a background on Elizabeth. She was born in England, and migrated with her husband to the US.  EZ is credited with revolutionizing and analyzing knitting starting in the 1950’s.  She wrote many books, had TV shows, eventually her own press and knitting retreats.  Elizabeth analyzed the craft of knitting, researched how old sweaters were crafted and constructed, and popularized the Aran and Fair Isle sweaters in the United Sates.  She broke a sweater construction down into easily manageable parts that could be manipulated to fit any body type.  My first introduction to EZ was with the book Knitting without Tears, which I read cover to cover immediately and loved.  It was there that I understood why I knit different than most other knitters I knew, and why it was so much faster.  The book The Opinionated Knitter is one I just recently acquired, and it will definitely be my vacation knitting.

    I must have Elizabeth mojo today.  I was in the bookstore, and stopped to look at the knitting magazines.  I have given up all of my subscriptions, as I found them to have less and less of the types of projects that I like to knit.  Today I decided to purchase the current issue of Interweave Knits, as it had a nice article on Elizabeth Zimmerman, and another on Barbara Walker.  Two women who changed the face of knitting in America, and people I wish I had known about at a younger age.  I knit in such isolation for many many years, and knew nothing about the books that were available to me.  Now there are too many influences.  Barbara Walker also wrote 4 definitive stitch guides for knitters.  I had the fortune to take a class with her about 10 years ago on slip stitch knitting.  It was very fun to meet her, and she told the owner of the knit shop that I was the fastest knitter that she had seen.  What a great compliment.

    So, today while trolling artound on the Ravelry site, I found a shawl that was a free download and a tribute to the Elizabeth Zimmerman Pi shawl.  And then 2 others on the same page!  I saved all 3.  I have been looking to a new project, and this might be the ticket.  Now to decide which I like the best.

    The Gull Wings:

    Or Hearts

    Or Camping

    My favorite so far is the last one, Camping.  I have some beautiful natural wool, Inari from Habu Textiles, that I think might work nice for this one.

    • Andrew 10:42 pm on August 9, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      All three are gorgeous. There is something about the scalloped edge of the first two that I love, but the leaf pattern in the third feels very arts & crafts. What color are you using?


    • Debbie S 7:20 am on August 10, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Oh, I love the last one but the first two are pretty, too. Have you ever made EZ’s Pi Shawl?

      KYFarmgirl (Rav)


      • knitting1105 8:25 am on August 10, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        I have never made the Pi shawl. I think this is a good time. All of the 3 patterns have a repeat of 8-9-10 in honor of her birthday.


  • knitting1105 1:37 pm on July 8, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Hot off the presses, Norwegian Patterns for Knitting 

    I just got the book Norwegian Patterns for Knitting by Mette N. Handberg (yes another) in the mail a couple of days ago.  I had pre-ordered this last winter, and was anticipating it’s arrival.  The author is the person who designed the Polar Bear Sweater that I knit,  and one of the first fair isle sweaters that I made for my husband years ago (which is how I came to own DON Pattern book #79 long before it was commanding $500 on eBay).  

    And, I was not disappointed.  Here is the new book:  

    The first sweater that I am anxious to make is listed as a Man’s sweater, but I think that it would look great on me.  Hard to believe that there are only 4 colors used in this pattern.  I apologize for the fuzziness of the photo.  I need to take lessons on how to better use my camera.

    On the knitting front, I am almost finished with the Vernal Equinox Shawl.  I am hoping to block it tomorrow, so will save a photo until it is finished.  Shawls on the needles just look like a messed up bunch of knitting.  It is the blocking that brings out the beauty.

    • Lucy Roosevelt-Sewall 7:31 am on September 16, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Love the polar bear sweater and want to knit it for my granddaughter. Can you tell me where to get the pattern or book?


      • knitting1105 2:28 pm on September 16, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Thank you so much! The pattern has long been out of print, but I know that from some vendors if you purchase the yarn, they are authorized to make a photocopy of the pattern for your use. Try http://www.kidsknits.com for one.

        You can also see more of my sweater in this post.


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