Archives for category: In Progress

As has become customary in the past with my knitting, in times of trial or heightened activity, the knitting swings back to its roots, and garter stitch projects starting sprouting up like little winter flowers.

For me, it comes down to the question of how to continue making projects that are smart and interesting while running on much less fuel than I’m accustomed to. And where garter stitch is concerned, no one is safe, including my lace-weight stash.

Garter Garter

This slinky little number is a whole lot of fun, and perfect for countering temporary feelings of knitting inadequacy. There will be lace incorporated into the finished piece, but for now, it’s knit knit knit. The great thing about garter stitch with such a lightweight yarn is how fluffy and airy it becomes, while still maintaining the squish factor that I so shamelessly crave. The fiber has a lot to do with it (always) – Silky Alpaca Lace is a relatively new yarn from Classic Elite and a total treat to work with. Sort of feels like it’s made of butter… and I mean that in such a good way.

New Sweater...

And for the slightly better days, when I want something to bring my A-game to (or pretend I have an A-game with)… there’s a sweater of similar sensibility. I call it my “Yes-I’m-In-Grad-School-But-Still-Want-A-New-Sweater” Sweater. Simple simple, but with some interesting shaping and construction things that I’m having fun playing with. Not to mention the
edible yarn (doesn’t it kinda look…. food-like? I’m thinking… Oreos.) (Or… have I finally gone crazy?)

You may remember me starting a new sweater design with my Kathmandu stash a few months back. Well… I finished it. I liked it well enough, but wasn’t absolutely floored by it. And the nagging question of “is this really good enough for this awesome yarn?” was proving to be quite a nuisance. Well, giving it time, which is the only thing to do in that situation, the illumination did come – a dear friend of mine was caught working up a Tomten Jacket in the same yarn and once I felt the soft, tweedy garter-squish of it, I knew what had to be done.

Instead of taking the time to rip out the entire sweater (always a bit depressing), I just pulled out the bind-off and started making a new one straight away. A nice trick to employ when searching for some sort of redemptive experience to erase our non-brilliant knitting moments and transform them into (*cross your fingers*) something better [See below for new sweater being harvested from old]

New Sweater...

And if I’ve learned anything from my knitting, it’s this: a good yarn deserves the right treatment. If that means biting the bullet and re-knitting a sweater, then so be it. (I should remind you that it usually takes a couple months for me to say that.)

But enough of my soapbox jabbering. In design news, I have a couple new patterns coming down the pike this winter, which I’m so happy to get out to you. And speaking of winter, we’re down to 40 degree temperatures over here – the big woolies have been busted out and that means giant, happy smiles from me. Enjoy your knitting, it’s finally time!

September, for me, seems to consistently be a time for re-assessing my knitting direction. Time to circle the wagons, see what we’ve got after all that summer knitting and see where we’re going. This year, as with last, it also happens to be the time when my schedule undergoes a rather severe change and I find I have new knitting needs that need to be met.

I’ve been floundering a little bit over the last week trying to transition from having the time and brainpower to work on intricate, detailed knitting, to striking a new balance with simpler, more intuitive projects. Things are still up in the air, but I did do a bit of spinning to help aid the confluence.

The Minstrel & I....

I pulled out a bag of natural brown shetland and set myself on auto-pilot. Lately more and more I’ve been craving natural, undyed sheepswool, and spinning this has been just the ticket for me in the last few days. As for knitting with it, I’m dreaming of some in-the-round knitting with steeks – something simple that shows off this beautiful wool. For now, though, I’m happy with endless plying.

Spinning Spinning Spinning

I’ve said it before, but Shetland is one of my all time favorite things to work with on the wheel. I think it gets lot of flack for being typically scratchy and unwearable, but I think it is quite the opposite – so light and lofty, it spins up into a yarn that is fluffy, soft and warm – not to mention looking beautiful. I never tire of it.

In other news, as I was trying to physically organize my knitting this week, I was able to collect up all my swatches from this summer into one place (they were stuffed in many a nook and cranny) (oh the places you’ll go, little swatches!) and had to take a photo. Is this a way to measure progress?

The Things We Do For Gauge

I have a scarily low number of projects on the needles (that’s a relative “low”). After having finished up some design projects that were needing attention, I realized I may be closer than ever to digging myself out of the deep ditch of WIPs I seem to have created for myself last year.

Oh yes, and the woolly lace is progressing without delay and should be all ready for the click of the seasons that I’m expecting here any day now…

Lace Lump
Until then, though, I’ll be doing my share of knitterly spring-cleaning in hopes of reaching a balance which I can ride right into the thick of our favorite season for wool-wearing. It really is just around the corner.

Hi, everyone! The last weeks have been quite the whirlwind – I spent July traveling around my home turf in the PNW. I did a lot of knitting and design work and got a much needed break from city life. The trip was peaceful, insightful and inspiring – exactly what I was after. When I finally got back to New York, I had a last minute opportunity to travel to Cape Cod, and I promptly jumped on that train, despite my better judgement that staying home and catching up on the bevy of work awaiting me here was the right thing to do, and don’t regret it. I figure I need to enjoy my last summer as a student in an official capacity.

So what’s been doing on the needles? So very much to share. That lace bug that comes around every few months is back with a vengeance, and I thought I’d try my hand at some lace designing. Uncharted territory for me, but I’ve been having a looot of fun with it.

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To tell you the truth, my tolerance of heat is starting to wear thin – granted we’ve had what I would consider a very mild summer here (knock on wood), and I haven’t even been here the whole time, but air conditioned quarters are still required for marathon knitting – and my wintry temperament is feeling stifled. Visions of lace, cables and colorwork taunt me nightly. Even so, I’ll continue patiently waiting for the click of the seasons to happen sometime in September (please?). When it does though…

New Lace for Fall (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

…there will be plenty of warm, winter lace. I thought maybe the summer would stave off this year’s blanket trend in my knitting, but the “Year of the Blanket” title has remained all the same. There may or may not be more than just this one gaining momentum in recesses of the apartment.

I’ve been playing with wools both heavy and light – I can’t seem to get enough of that wonderful texture you get with pre-blocked, heavy weight lace projects.

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I know it’s cruel to just give little peeks under the (lace) blanket, but these things will be expounded upon shortly. Something I can indulge you in more of however is this, my most treasured recent acquisition: a box of new yarns from Beaverslide Dry Goods, one of my all time favorite farms over in beautiful Montana. Tell me though, seriously, what could be better than coming home from vacation to this:

Best. Box. Ever. (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

Most definitely worth breaking a serious yarn diet for. No guilt here. Really.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be catching up on many things that have been sorely neglected, not the least of which is my inbox. All things considered, it’s great to be home – I really missed my yarn.

The glorious red blob is finally shaping up into something really special, and I’m loving it.

Red Blob (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

The spiral is, to me, a constantly intriguing motif in knitting and I love patterns that play with and incorporate its structure. I’m enjoying this sweater so much, I might make two – what a great pattern!

The Spiral Begins (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

I had a wonderful time in Virginia teaching and got to meet a whole bunch of wonderful knitters. Between the recovery from my trip and preparations for my real vacation, things have been a bit crazy, but I’m gearing up for a hell of a lot of knitting over the next month.

More Spiral (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

As of tomorrow, and for the entire month of July I’ll be relaxing on the west coast on a much needed vacation. I’ll be passing back and forth between Seattle, Portland and the Oregon Coast with knitting always by my side and happily leaving the NYC humidity behind. I plan on knitting a lot and finally getting to play around with some new design ideas. I will have my computer with me, so you may not notice much of a change around here, other than hopefully more knitting output than normal. That’s what vacations are all about, right? At least for us knitters.

Goodbye Brooklyn, hello Pacific.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, for all of your kind words on the past few posts. It’s fun to finally get all this knitting out there, as its been piling up somethin’ fierce throughout the spring. I’m psyched that so many of you are getting the itch to knit big garter-y blankets. Good timing too, they’ll be done just in time for fall. And in case you missed it, I updated the last post with a link to a picture of the full blanket (check the very last lines of the post).

Now that we’ve cleared the air of the finished knitting, I can get back to babbling on about all the many random things that are running around unfinished. I’ll continue to ignore the projects whose lengthy hibernation hasn’t yet ended, if it ever does. (Scott, Scott? Where are you?)

I’ve been hit with a fresh new wave of sweater-knitting-fever, and have had a couple of absolutely wonderful yarns stashed and waiting for a time just like this. The most important of them are the following:

Merry Christmas to Me (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

A big batch of hand dyed yarn from Sundara. I procured 10 skeins of this unbelievable red last Christmas (self-love Christmas presents are great, aren’t they?) and have been thinking about it all year. It’s her (sadly now discontinued) worsted merino semi-solid, and I’ve finally found a worthy use for it.

I’ve started Meg Swansen’s Spiral Yoke Pullover, a sweater that has been on my list for a long time and is, I think, a great match for the yarn.

Sleeves Are Done (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

In a rare display of self-restraint, I actually knit the sleeves first this time. Something I should do more often, because when you’re as excited as I am about a certain yoke pattern, you don’t want to stop for anything once you reach the underarms.

The other stash jewel that I’ve been coveting to work with is a big batch of Queensland Kathmandu Aran Tweed that I snagged from the WEBS sale this year. Chocolatey, tweedy, woolen spun, and soft (cashmere, silk, merino, thanks) – I’ll knit you any day.

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The nameless blob seen below? Yep, you guessed it – another seamless sweater. You’d think I’d tire of ‘em, but I can just never get enough. (I guess this is the same syndrome sock-knitters are plagued with, right? There can never be enough handknits to cover your feet?)

This is a design of my own that I’ve been itching to realize for some time and hopefully will. Don’t hold me to it, though. Designs always have a lifespan of their own.

Tweed Blob (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

I’m off to Virginia early in the morning to teach at the Purl Jam over the weekend. If you’re signed up for some of my classes, I’ll see you there! BT e-mail response times over the weekend will be delayed, as a result, but I’ll surely be fielding double-time when I return. Until then!


Snip Snip (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)
 

Post Op (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

And Now For the Fun Part. (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)And Now For the Fun Part. (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

More cutting fun coming soon!

My knitting and I have been enjoying a long-overdue reunion over the last few days. Really, it’s more like a second honeymoon. I’ve been an absolute glutton with my wool and needles , choosing knitting over literally anything else (friends, laundry, eating… nothing is safe!).

I was doing so well taking care of languishing projects and cleaning up loose ends. I thought my annual spring cleaning of stash would help me get a realistic perspective on both current and future knitting, while giving me the sense and control to conjure a game-plan for finishing WIPs. Wrong. Quite the opposite happened, in fact. I uncovered many long-forgotten stash jewels, falling prey to many a fiber spell. I must have blacked out for an afternoon, because when I woke up I was surrounded by multiple new projects. I blame Ravelry. I always blame Ravelry.

I wasn’t even sure where to begin with blogging, there’s so much going on all of a sudden. And, I actually have time to tell you about it. I think I’ll take the haphazard route of random-project-photo-flashing?

The Garter Stitch Love Fest never stops around here. I’m still chipping away at the big afghan.

Halfway (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

I had to send for more yarn – this thing is a true beast of wool. This is EZ’s Garter Stitch Afghan from The Opinionated Knitter – pictured is half of the finished product, seamed together. The pattern is worked in 4 pieces. I’m about a quarter of the way through the fourth and final piece. With chunky yarn held double, I’ll be hard pressed to find a warmer blanket than this come winter time.

As for sweater knitting…

Texture Whore (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

I’m still plugging away on Na Craga, although it is truly slow going. Really, that’s no problem – it’s rare that I tire from having so much righteous cabel-ry around. I’m ready to start the sleeves, which caused a temporary pause in the process, allowing for a few new projects to wedge their way in. Projects that don’t require sleeves.

Striped Vest (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

When Vests Attack. I’ve never been much of a vest fan, but as has happened so many times before, knitting has slowly worn down yet another of my garment prejudices. The other day, I had an all-consuming urge to knit a vest. No idea where it came from, but when the knitting muse comes a-calling, I try not to stand in her way.

The vest sort of fell into place on it’s own. I had just finished spinning a bunch of Adrian‘s beautiful shetland and it was really burning a hole in my stash. I had more than enough for a smaller project, but not enough for a garment.

Low Country Cakes (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

Mere days before, my sister-in-law sent me a thrifted wool tweed sweater from Ireland that she picked up in Portland for a whopping two dollars. As I was harvesting all that glorious Irish wool, I realized the weight was just the same as my shetland handspun. The vest bug bit and everything became dizzyingly clear…

I’m winging the pattern, knitting it in the round with steeked armholes and v-neck opening. And can’t put it down. I’m having a blast. You’ll see more soon.

Also, lace:

Smoke Ring (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

I ran across a discreet skein of fingering weight merino/tencel from Dave at Cabin Cove and started knitting this smoke ring almost immediately, which I find terribly beautiful. It’s the Flared Lace Smoke Ring from the folks at Heartstrings Fiber Arts and I’m loving every stitch.

Smokey (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

The craziest thing is there are MORE projects. They’re everywhere. It’s a true case of knitting schizophrenia. I’m all over the place, and while this type of knitting behavior usually puts me on edge, lately I’m thrilled by it.

More soon. Very soon. (I’m neglecting my knitting)

I recently heard someone say that spinning is a natural progression for any knitter. While I can’t speak for everyone, I can say that when I think about how much I’ve learned about yarn since becoming a spinner, this statement definitely holds true for me. When you begin constructing and knitting with your own yarns, you’re bound to reach a new understanding of what this fiber thing is all about, and that’s a good day for everyone.

I received a lot of e-mail responses to my last post regarding the process of converting fiber to yarn. Lots of you want pictures! Do I detect many knitters on the brink of making a crossover? (Just remember, spindles are a cheap way to test the waters)(without causing marital problems) The art of spinning is something I am unqualified to present to you on any formal level, but I thought I’d do what I could and give you a visual journey through my own spinning process. This topic will span 2 to 3 posts, not only because I am wary of overwhelming non-spinners with too much foreign information, but because currently my personal spinning time is a rarity, and this current spinning project is literally in progress. I think it works best this way for all of us. Now, shall we begin?

Wool comes to handspinners in many different forms. In our case we’ll be looking at hand-dyed roving, which seems to me one of the more popular ways urban spinners (with no space for cleaning or carding fleeces) like to roll.

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A roving is a continuous strip of combed or carded fibers to which a slight twist has been added (to keep everything everything together for dying, shipping, etc). Basically, a long, doughy strip of compressed wool. Rovings often come in braids after they’ve been dyed, like the one shown above. This particular beauty comes to us from the good folks at Interlacements in Colorado.

Unfurl the braid to see the roving in its entirety. The photo below shows the roving unbraided and reveals the dying scheme – spacial color fields of oranges, blues, and greens. Purdy, ain’t it?

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Roving is too dense to spin as-is and must be drafted first. Some spinners draft as they spin, others, like me, prefer pre-drafting. Drafting is essentially drawing the fibers out gently from one another to allow air into the spaces between individual fibers. When wool is drafted well it flows easily and consistently while spinning, which is desirable if you like your yarn nice and even. Notice below the difference in the fiber between my fingers and those that have yet to be drawn out. Wispy!

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In the wrong mindset, drafting can be an annoying precursor to the good stuff, although I tend to enjoy it – preparing the fiber and getting to know the tactile qualities of your specific batch of wool adds a special layer to the process. Kind of like giving your fiber a massage.

Depending on what color-effects you’re after, you may choose to tear the roving into strips and draft them individually. By doing this you essentially reduce the length of color repeats in your yarn – a quality you can manipulate in order to conjure up self-striping color patterns or other color tricks in your final yarn. With a well-dyed roving, you have a whole lot of possibilities – no two yarns will ever be exactly the same.

Below is a strip of roving (this time around, I split mine into 4) balled up on the window before being drafted.

Anatomy of a <span class=

Drafting magically makes your fiber amount seem to multiply exponentially – what used to slink easily into the bottom of your basket as a tidy little roving now gently floats up over the edges – a sumptuous cloud of colorful wool bursting with potential, just waiting for a romp with your wheel. A rather delicate thing of beauty in itself (Note: not pet friendly, nor wind friendly for that matter).

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A nice big basket of pre-drafted fiber is a great thing to have around (see above if you own pets) – beautiful on its own, but always ready for a quick spin. And with this full basket, we conclude this evening’s portion of our tour – fiber prep.

Up next we get down-n-dirty making yarn, followed by some form of knitting-with-handspun, although I’m not promising any projects… if I did, I may never get around to that third post! Stay tuned for more spinning fun!

Well, I’m officially on Spring Break and feel like I can actually take a nice deep breath, knit profusely, and talk about it. So today I get to share with you some of the knitting fun that has been sporadically plodding along behind the scenes.

The most exciting undertaking to have begun in the last couple of weeks is the second project in the ongoing process of project provocation that Adrian and I seem to continually dish out, or as we officially call it, our 2-Person-Knit-a-long.

I think we’ve probably been waxing poetic about Alice Starmore’s Na Craga [via Ravelry] pattern for well over a year. Armed with lots of wool (this thing is a beast) it’s a wonder that we’ve finally taken the plunge and started the knitting. I can’t tell you how good it feels to have tweedy cables back in my life.

Gimme The Good Stuff

We’re both heavily modifying it from its sack-like origins. Since the fabric is thick like a jacket, and I’m pre-disposed to being warm, this is undergoing a full cardiganization. I also have hopes of making it hooded, the thought of which makes me positively giddy, but this of course all depends on how much yarn I have. Yarn which, as naturally happens, is discontinued.

Twisted Ribbing

I’m dipping into my last sweaters-worth of the lovely Skye Tweed from Classic Elite (may she rest in peace). This will be my third sweater with this yarn… wow, maybe it’s good that I’m being forced to move on?

I’ll be doing the standard seamless treatment on this one too, meaning lovely knitting done all in one piece, just the way I like it. Rather than steeking this time around, I’m knitting back and forth (all the cabling happens on even rows, so it’s nice and clean) with a buttonband worked in as I go.

Cables Everywhere

The cables in this thing are spectacular – those cheese-grater-like honeycombs not only run up the body, but also right up the center of the sleeves and flow into one of the best saddle-shoulders I think I’ve ever seen. The braided plait cables, while being the biggest hand-haters of any motif in the pattern, look so good I can’t complain (that much). And how about that twisted ribbing?! It really makes it.

Knitting a sweater like this is always an up and down saga, but so far we haven’t had any major snags, aside from sometimes being so brain dead at the end of the day that the thought of even looking at the thing sometimes seems outside of my human capacity. In these cases, it’s good to have a back up. To that end, I’m still plugging away on my ginormous garter stitch afghan which I can now safely use to keep me warm whilst I work on it – a huge bonus in my book.

Workhorse

I’m getting out of the city for the week and couldn’t be happier. For those of you who are lucky enough to get a break this week – I hope you enjoy! Tomorrow my knitting and I will be spending some quality time on a train speeding along the Hudson and away from Gotham. Have a great week!