Friday, December 26, 2008

Kiwi Knitting End of the Year Sale

Now that all your gift knitting is over (it is, isn't it?) you can turn your thoughts to long, cozy winter days of knitting for yourself. And just in time comes the Kiwi Knitting after Holidays sale!

25% off on ALL inventory!
50% off on sale table yarns!

From Dec 26th - 30th the shop is open from 10 am to 6 pm, on the 31st from 10 am to 4 pm. Closed Sunday.

Happy shopping! And I look forward to seeing you again at Knit Dr every Friday morning from 10 til 12 to see what new projects we have all started. I was gifted with some gorgeous hand-dyed sock yarn and the new book, Knitting Socks With Handpainted yarns. Sigh! I can't wait!

But first I have to finish my Mom's gift (today), start and finish my Dad's gift, and knit up the three bags of yarn I gave my husband for Christmas...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Last Minute Gift Ideas For The Knitter Who Has (Almost) Everything

Two days to go before Christmas, Hanukkah is coming to an end before you know it, and you still need the perfect Wow! gift for the knitter in your life?

Or maybe you suspect that your significant other is stumped? If so, leave this page showing on your computer and give them some help!

A while back in the Kiwi newsletter I gave you a list of things that every knitter needs to have in their tool case, which I later revisited here on the blog. But what about the tools that go above and beyond?

So they have all the needles they want, you don't know what yarn or patterns to get them. Here are some ideas for thing that they might not buy for themselves, but will change their knitting life and make their projects easier and more professional. These items are life savers, and once a knitter has them, they will wonder how they ever lived without them.

Yarn Swift and Ball Winder
Every knitter needs one of these set-ups. Every Knitter. I bought mine early in my knitting career thanks to the generosity of our own Marianne, and I couldn't live without them. A yarn swift is that umbrella-like contraption that holds a hank of yarn taut and even while a yarn ball is wound from it. Sure, you can ask to have your yarn wound at the shop. Sure, you can put the hank on the back of a chair and wind a ball from it there. Yes, you can ask an obliging family member to hold the hank for you on two hands while you wind. But trust me, these things are worth their weight in gold. They twirl smoothly while the ball is wound, feeding the yarn to the ball winder with nary and tangle or a burst of frustrated language.

Now pair the yarn swift with the ball winder and you have a match made in heaven. You can get the basic ball winder, which I have, and it will last forever and serve you well. I cannot begin to imagine how many hundreds of balls of yarn I have wound on mine, and it is sill merrily winding yarn balls at my command. Or you can get my dream ball winder, which is the super-duper orbiting one that you have seen Lynn use at the shop. This one will wind a much larger hank of yarn into a ball, and while my regular size one serves perfectly for almost every hank of yarn there have been times when I have needed the big one. If you are buying a new ball winder, my advice is to go for the big one and be done with it.

Blocking Boards
A knitted or crocheted garment is made or broken by the finishing. And finishing includes blocking properly. Blocking makes all the difference between hand-made and home-made. And yes, we have all blocked things on layers of towels spread out on our dining table, or bed or floor until they dry. How much easier to use blocking boards with their gridded surfaces that can be pinned into. Although they are quite big, blocking boards fold away and can be tucked into a closet between uses. The grid makes it easy for you to line up edges and make sure that your project is even and straight as it dries.

Blocking Wires
And to make the blocking package complete - blocking wires. These are a handy set of wires that you use along the edges of your project as you block it, in order to make perfectly smooth and even lines on your edges. Think bottom hems that are no longer wavy, button bands that are straight and precise, pocket tops that don't sag, side edges that are straight. I got a set of these a couple of years ago for my birthday, and I do wonder how I thought I was blocking properly without them.

Anytime you are sewing pieces of your project together, you need pins. Long shanked, large headed pins that are made especially for this purpose. They aren't expensive, pick up a couple of packages of them. Not small safety pins, not dress-maker pins, and not quilting pins, but the pins made by Clover for exactly this purpose - to hold your two pieces of knitted or crocheted fabric together firmly while you sew your seams. If you want your seaming process to go well and loo professional once you are finished, you need to pin your fabric.

Double Pointed Needles
Yes, you heard me. One set each of short double pointed needles in several sizes. Although I no longer knit in the round using dpns, I am always grateful that early in my knitting life I bought a set of these in each and every size. When I start a new project - especially anything with cables, I toss a matching size set into my knitting bag for emergencies. I use them for cable needles, and I also use them to fix mistakes. Suddenly spot that eight rows back you crossed that cable in the wrong direction? And you don't want to frog back all those eight rows either, do you? No problem. Ladder back just the offending stitches, and reknit them up on your dpns. Put the fixed sts back onto your regular needles, and you are good to go.

Needle and hook organizers.
If I never see another knitter whip out a large zip-lock bag containing tangles of circular needles in a massive disarray of sizes and lengths, it will be too soon. Do you have a size 7, I ask? I don't know, they reply. Does this look like a 7? Maybe this one is. Needle organizers are a very valuable investment for not a lot of money. It would meant that you know what you have and what you don't, and can get to it quickly and easily. It would mean that you are ready for anything. It would mean longer life for your no-longer-battered needles. And it will give you a little moment of beauty when you take one of these lovely things out of your knitting bag.

Sticky Notes
Get a couple of small pads of sticky notes and put them in your knitting bag. They are invaluable for marking pages in pattern books, for taking quick notes, for marking your spot in your pattern or chart when you put your knitting down. Worth their weight in gold.

Waste Yarn
I carry two small balls of waste yarn in my knitting bag - both white - in DK or worsted weight, and in fingering weight. Any time your pattern asks you to put your sts onto holders, you really want waste yarn instead. Thread your needle with a length of yarn, slip it through all the sts and slip them off the needles. Use it for emergency markers. Use it for provisional cast-ons. Waste yarn can be tossed out when it gets ragged from reuse.

I hope you are all enjoying this holiday season and that this gives you some ideas for gift giving - even to yourself! and if all else fails, a gift certificate to Kiwi Knitting Co is the gift that is perfect in every size!

Best wishes-

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Recalculating a Pattern

Happy Hanukkah! I hope everyone is enjoying the holidays and may all your projects be finished!

I ran into a small problem this week with a last-minute project, and I thought I could share some words of wisdom with all of you.

My husband, who never ever wants me to give him gifts, was finally, with much arm-twisting, persuaded to let me knit something for him. His request? A felted vest. I searched through some patterns and came across the Felted Vest pattern in Bev Galeska's wonderful book, Felted Knits. Just one problem. With only a week to go before the big gift-giving day, I realized that I really, really didn't want to spend hours and hours each day knitting nine miles of stockinette stitch, only to felt it later.

Now don't get me wrong - I love knitting. I love knitting gifts for my husband. I love felting. But to spend so much time knitting something the size of a long winter nightgown and then shrink it to the proper size would take a whole lot of knitting time. Time that I could spend doing really interesting knitting, like cables and lace and other fascinating things.

Not a problem though, because I have a basic knitting machine for just such an emergency. I like to do a lot of felted projects, and I have been playing with the knitting machine exclusively for this very purpose. My first job, then, in changing the pattern from hand-knitting to machine knitting was to knit up a swatch on my machine at the tension settings that I know from experience will give me a fabric that felts easily and well, and then measure the gauge of that un-felted swatch. The pattern calls for a gauge of 14 sts/4 inches and 21 rows/4 inches in an un-felted swatch. And my machine, wide open, only gives a gauge of 15 sts/4 inches and 21 rows/4 inches. That is as big as it gets, the machine won't make stitches any larger than that.

My husband piped up and asked the question that perhaps some of you are asking as well: It's only one stitch difference. What's the problem? Ah, but it's one stitch over four inches. Multiply that tiny little stitch by the total size of the unfelted vest, and you've got a project that doesn't fit when it's finished. At the stitch count that the pattern calls for, and knitting at my gauge, the vest would end up significantly smaller than intended.

Now say that like many of us, you see a pattern you love and there is a wonderful yarn at Kiwi that you have been just dying to use - but it doesn't quite fit. Or you are looking for a pattern to help you use up something that has been gathering dust in your stash. And your substitute yarn knits up at a different gauge than the yarn that the pattern calls for.

Or maybe you have the specified yarn, but you don't like the look of the fabric at the proper gauge. The swatch might feel too loose and open to you, or so tight that you could use it to scrub pots and pans. What do you do? Give up and move on to another project?

No. You recalculate your pattern, taking into account the gauge you are going to be using. The process is very, very simple, but it does contain several steps. Follow these simple steps and you are on your way to a successful project.

First of all, we know that gauge x size = stitch count. The number of stitches you get to the inch, times the size you want the project to be when finished, tells you how many stitches you need to cast on.

It wouldn't be appropriate for me to talk about the actual stitch count in the pattern that I used, so I am fudging that part a bit in my explanation, but all the rules are the same - no matter what the original gauge is, what your gauge is, or what the stitch count is.

1. Knit your gauge swatch and determine your new gauge.. Measure your stitch gauge and your row gauge. Write them down. Block your swatch. Measure the stitch gauge and row gauge again after blocking. Write them down. Why do I tell you to measure gauge before and after blocking? Your post-blocking gauge will guide you in getting the proper finished results. Your pre-blocking gauge provides you with a guideline to maintain as you are knitting, to ensure that you are staying on gauge and will get the results that you want. Because I am felting the finished project, that point is moot in my example, but it sure the heck won't be moot in your non-felted project. Take the time to take both before and after measurements and be a happier knitter.

My gauge = 15 sts/4 in. 21 rows/4 in.
Let's break that down into inches by dividing by four- 3.75 sts/in.

2. Find the pattern's original gauge requirement.
Original pattern (OP) gauge = 14 sts/4 in, or 3.5 sts/in. 21 rows/4 in.

My row gauge and the OP row gauge are the same, so we can ignore them, nothing needs to change there.

3. How many inches is the finished size of the OP?
In my example we will pretend that the original pattern for a 40-inch finished size is asking me to cast on 140 sts. If we do the math, we know that 140 sts divided by 3.5 sts/in = 40 inches. Or, 3.5/140=40.

4. Substitute your new gauge.40 inches x 3.75 sts/in = 150 sts to cast on.

This means that I have to cast on 150 stitches at my new gauge of 3.75sts/in in order to get a 40" chest measurement in my final garment.

Still with me? Good.

Okay, you cast on 150 stitches and knit up to where the armhole shaping starts. Now the original pattern asks you to bind off 9 stitches at the beginning of the next row. Divide nine stitches by the original gauge of 3.5sts/in and that is 2.57 inches to cast off in the OP. Let's multiply that 2.57 in. by my new gauge of 3.75sts/in, and I know that I have to cast off 9.64 sts in order to get the same decrease depth. Let's just call that 10 stitches and be done with it.

Next the pattern asks me to cast off 1 st at the armhole edge, every other row 6 times. That adds up, of course, to 6 more sts decreased. 3.5/6 = 1.71 inches. In order for me to achieve the closest equivalent, I then multiply that OP 1.71 inches by my 3.75sts/in and know that I have to cast off 6.42 sts. That can't happen, so I'll stick with 6 sts to cast off.

And so on. When the original pattern tells you to do something - bind off, cast on, whatever - for 'A' number of sts, divide 'A' by the OP sts/in in order to get the most basic unit. Next multiply the result of that by your new sts/in, and round the new result up or down accordingly. You'll get your desired fabric and size using your new gauge, and you'll be happy with the results.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Provisional Cast-on, Part Two

Well, I don't know about you, but that was a much longer pause than I had planned on. My camera, which I assume is to take pictures and videos when and as I demand, does not hold the same supposition.

So, as previously planned, go fetch yarn, plus waste yarn, and appropriately-sized needles. And watch...

Holding the two yarns together and leaving a 6-8" tail, tie the two yarns into a slip knot. Do not use an over-hand knot as it will be harder to take your knot apart later.

Looking at the thumb side of your hand, hold the yarn in your left hand with the waste yarn coming off of your index finger, and the working yarn under your thumb. and controlling the tension of these two yarns by holding them into your palm with your other fingers, just as you do for a long-tail cast-on. Hold the slip knot in your right hand, and your needle in your right hand, pointing towards your left hand. The two yarns should form a triangle between the knot in your right hand, and the upper waste yarn and lower working yarn held in your left hand.

Begin the cast on by
1 - putting your needle in between the two yarns, from front to back. Bring the needle under the working yarn from behind, and catch the working yarn with your needle to form the first stitch.
2- Bring the needle up and over the top of the waste yarn towards the back, and down behind both yarns. Bring the needle under the working yarn to the front, and catch the working yarn with the needle to form the second stitch, pulling this stitch behind the waste yarn, over the top of the waste yarn, and back to the front.

Repeat those two motions until you have the required number of cast-on stitches. Cut the waste yarn from its ball, leaving a 6" tail so that it doesn't unravel from the knitting. Proceed to knit as usual.

If you look carefully at the cast-on stitches and the waste yarn on your needle,before you start knitting, you will see that they are exactly the same as the Italian Tubular cast on. That, too, could be worked with waste yarn in the same manner as this provisional cast-on, but working the first two rows by knitting the knits and slipping the purls wyif, before launching into the K1, P1 rib as previously described.

With the provisional cast-on, when it is time to go back to the cast-on edge and begin knitting in the opposite direction, simply thread a needle 1-2 sizes smaller than you used to cast on with through the stitches where they are held on the waste yarn. Untie the slip knot from the cast-on, and remove the waste yarn from the stitches. Using the correct sized needle for your pattern, knit off of the smaller needle and proceed with your pattern.

And so goes the second of our three identical cast-ons...

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Provisional Cast-on

Way back in mid-October, I promised to show you videos of three different cast-ons - that are all the exact same thing . Each of these cast-ons is used for a completely different purpose: the first, the Italian Tubular Cast-on, is used when starting a K1,P1 rib to give a nice, stretchy tubular cast-on. The second, which I will show you today, is one of several methods you can use to do a provisional cast-on.

What, you may well wonder, is a provisional cast-on used for? A provisional cast-on is used when you know that you will later want to go back to your cast-on edge, and have live stitches with which to begin working seamlessly in the opposite direction. Note that these stitches worked on the second half of your piece are then one-half stitch off sideways to the original knitting. Some examples of when I have used a provisional cast-on:

1. When working on a lace shawl that is knitted from the center out - work the provisional cast-on, knit one half of the shawl beginning at the center and working towards one side edge. The go back to the provisional cast-on, put live sts back onto the needle, and then knit a mirror image of the knitting just done on the other half. When finished with the shawl, there is no grafting to do to join the two halves of the shawl together.

2. On a fair isle vest that was knitted from the center back around to the fronts in two separate pieces, and then was meant to be seamed in the center back. Instead, I used a provisional cast-on, knitted one half of the vest, and repeated for the opposite side. I finished by grafting the two halves together in the back with Kitchener stitch. In retrospect, I would now instead knit the second half of the vest right off of the provisional cast-on for the first half.

3. On a toe-up sock that begins with a cast-on of half the total sock stitches at the base of the toe, under the foot. A short row toe is knitted that works from the cast-on, up over the end of the toe, and then to the base of the toes on the top of the sock foot. Here, the provisional cast-on stitches are then joined to the live stitches so that you are working in the round, and the rest of the sock is worked from there.

So a provisional cast-on or two is a handy technique to have under your belt, to pull out when called for in a pattern; and also to use as a substitute, as I did with my vest, when the occasion calls for it.

Now then, do me a favor, and for review go back and watch the first part of the Italian Tubular Cast-on video from the previous blog post. Then grab some yarn, some contrasting waste yarn, and needles in a size that is appropriate for your yarn. I'll meet you back here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Knitter's Thanksgiving

Although I try to remember to thank people and the universe at the time that good things come my way, there are a few special days in the year that I make a point of sitting down and listing the many good things in my life that I am grateful for - my birthday, our anniversary, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. So when thinking about this blog entry, I realized that I would like to list the knitterly things that I am grateful for this year...

1. Kiwi Knitting Co. & Lynn Davis: Well, this one is a given! Lynn and her shop came along at a time in my life where I really, really needed a knitting shop to go for work and fun to that had a pleasant and welcoming atmosphere. Over the last 3 and a half years my association with Lynn and Kiwi has afforded me wonderful opportunities for learning, for teaching and for growth - both personal and professional. And I will always be grateful to Lynn for letting me work on this blog for the shop!

2. My students: I have the great good fortune of being able to meet wonderful people through my work. In addition to the occasional classes I teach at Kiwi, I also teach private lessons, and run the Friday morning Knit Doctor sessions at Kiwi. And I have to tell you this - what lovely people you all are! You are intelligent, humorous, eager to learn, and as infected by knitting as I am. It is such a deep pleasure to teach something you love to people who really, really appreciate what you have to share. To me, that 'Aha!' moment, that light bulb moment when it all suddenly clicks for a student, is what makes my teaching world go round. There is amazing camaraderie that develops between a group of knitters in a class that takes place over the several weeks it takes to complete a project. There is something cathartic to the soul about knitting, and I find that students in the classes not only open up their minds, but also their hearts, and bonds of friendship are formed between students and with me that you would never think about when pondering whether to take a group knitting class. My private lesson students and I get to know each other over the weeks that we work together, and I have the chance to tailor my teaching to an individual knitter's needs. Again, I have made wonderful friends this way, and I am grateful to have you in my life. The Knit Doctor regulars... what can I say to you women that you don't already know? I look forward each week to seeing each and every one of you. I love seeing new faces join us, as well. I love how everyone hangs out even after their own questions are answered, knowing that they can learn from other people's questions as well.

3. Old Pueblo Knitters Guild: I've been a member of Tucson's knitting guild for about five years. The guild, I find, is stuffed full of women of all ages and of all skill levels who simply share a great love of all things knitting. OPK sponsors several guild projects and charities, such as Project Linus, Operation Gratitude, Precious Pals, and the Navajo Sweater project. A number of our members are also involved in the community, teaching knitting to children in local schools and libraries. I find our monthly meetings - the 3rd Thursday of every month from 9:30 til 11:30 at the Murphy Room at St. Philip's in the Foothills Church - to be a wealth of information about knitting and what is going on in the Tucson knitting community. I've made good friends through the guild, and through their guest workshops I have attended classes taught by incredible teachers and learned an amazing wealth of techniques that have contributed towards making me a better knitter.

4. The person - probably named Kitchener - who discovered how to graft sock toes. Dang, you have made my life infinitely simpler and happier! And I thank you anew each and every time I finish off a sock with that seamless toe. You even convinced me, a year or so back, to use a provisional cast-on a center back seam so that I could Kitchener it invisibly together,when finished, instead of having a seam running down my back as the designer dictated. If I seemed not so grateful one-hundred-and-something black yarn stitches later, then I hope you understand that I do thank you each time I wear that vest and lean against a chair back.

5. Whoever invented crochet: And I suspect that your name is not Crochet. I may not be as devoted a follower of your craft as I was in my younger days of nimbler wrists, but you are the first one I turn to when I need an edge trim on any project. Without you I would be far less adept at fixing my dropped stitches. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Every knitter should know how to crochet! Whole new worlds of creative possibilities will open up before you.

6. And speaking of edges - Nicky Epstein: Your 'Over the Edge' books are a treasure, and every knitter or crocheter should have them in his or her library. If you want to personalize your projects with a different take on ribbing, or by adding ruffles, or by adding a unique fringe, or with a picot edge - you name it, Nicky can show you how to do it with knitting needles. Nicky Epstein is turning out to be American Knitting's answer to Debbie Bliss in that she churns out so many knitting books so often that you begin to suspect she never sleeps. But each of her books is of great value to knitters who want to explore what they can do with their craft. 'Knitted Embellishments' will always be one of my favorites, as is 'Knitting Never Felt Better'. Both are must haves!

7. Ravelry: This is an incredible source of info mixed with fun for knitters and crocheters alike. If I see a new pattern and I want to see it made up by a whole host of life-size crafters around the world in every possible permutation, I can see those pictures in Ravelry. If a pattern calls for a yarn that I'm not familiar with, I can look it up in Ravelry. If I want knitting or crochet information or to improve a certain set of skills, I can find it through a forum on Ravelry. This is what the world wide web can mean for needleworkers.

8. You Tube: Anytime I hear about a new technique, I look to You Tube as a source for videos that will show me what I want to know. There are millions of knitters world-wide who just want to share what they know with others. Want to learn a new cast-on? Go to You Tube. Want to learn about decreases from Cat Bordhi herself? Go to You Tube. Like Ravelry and Google, it is the connected crafter's knowledge resource.

9. Addi Lace Needles: Although Addi Turbos have long been thought to be the cat's meow of needles among knitters, I was never wild about their cold feeling or blunt point. Then came the Addi Lace needles and I am a fervent convert. The warm brass needles are invisibly joined to a very flexible cord, and the needle tip as sharp enough to allow you to work K3tog tbl without batting an eyelash. I LOVE these needles, and they are my go-to needles for every project. I am gradually building myself a stash of 2 pairs each of every size. As I told someone once, these are my work tools. It's worth the effort to get the best. But what the heck, it's no effort at all! Lynn carries them at Kiwi in every size and every length. I know that as a new knitter starting a project, you are probably hesitant to buy a more costly needle when there are several less expensive choices open to you. Take it from me, all those needles I bought when I first learned to knit are long since sold on ebay, and I hoard these Addi Lace beauties instead. I would have saved a fortune had they been available when I took up knitting again - and had I been as wise then as I am now.

10. Knitting: Knitting saved my sanity, and it continues to do so each and every day. When I first developed adult onset asthma, I had to give up my career of 24 years and close our shop. I spent four long months gasping on the couch before we found the combination of asthma medications that made something approaching normal life possible for me again. In that time, when I was experiencing the worst symptoms, knitting got me through. I would be too distracted to read, often finding myself re-reading a sentence or paragraph over and over again without absorbing a thing. Reading is my first great love, so this was alarming to say the least. But knitting was something I could do during those difficult attacks that was relaxing, soothing, and allowed my brain to wander as much as it wanted while I still could knit and knit and knit.

Since that day knitting has bought me a new career, allowed me to earn money from writing about knitting, allowed me to meet a world of wonderful people, allowed me an outlet for expressing creativity that seems to be endless. It has brought me great joy and some danged nice knitted items. If I am able to share with you at least some fraction of the joy and creativity that I am able to derive from this craft, then I have had a blessed day.

Happy Thanksgiving Day to all!

PS- The next two videos in the cast-on series are not forgotten! Somewhere in there we made a very sudden decision to move house, and I am just this week able to see large expanses of carpeting and table tops in our new home. Videos are now possible without cardboard boxes lurking in the background. And I now know where the camera and tri-pod are. Life is good.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Galina Khmeleva

Tucson knitters have a rare and wonderful educational and cultural opportunity available to them this week. Old Pueblo Knitters Guild, with the help of Kiwi Knitting Company, is hosting Galina Khmeleva. Teacher, knitter and designer extraordinaire, Orenburg lace expert and cultural ambassador - would be just some of the titles that first spring to mind that could be applied to this amazing woman. Galina hails from Russia and has, over the years, become arguably the most knowledgeable source of information regarding traditional Orenburg lace knitting techniques, as well as the history of the lace knitting tradition of the Orenburg region.

At the foot of the Ural mountains, the Orenburg region has long been famed for the ethereal, gossamer lace shawls traditionally knitted by the women of the region from handspun fibers gleaned from a special breed of cashmir goats. In the early 1990s Galina became involved with helping the women of the region to sustain the craft by exporting the shawls for sale. She also had the opportunity to learn from the experts the traditional patterns and techniques that make the shawls of this region so costly, so coveted and so unique.

I had the incredible opportunity this past weekend to take part in a small 3-day workshop that Galina presented. In addition to the history of Orenburg, the history of her involvement with the knitters of the region, and the stories of her family history under the regime of the USSR - all of which makes for a fascinating running monologue as we knitted - we were taught the basic design elements of the Orenburg tradition.

We were also taught new cast-ons, bind-offs, and a very different and very easy method of grafting that is unique to the knitted textiles of the region. The incredible edgings that are part of the Orenburg lace shawls were great fun to learn and knit, as well as being amazingly beautiful. I think I can speak for us all if I say that Galina is an excellent teacher with a deep grounding in her material and a clear and precise teaching method that makes all that she teaches easily attainable. And let's face it, short of going to the expense and the trouble of traveling to the Orenburg region yourself, spending years establishing a rapport with the local knitters - not to mention learning to peak Russian so that you can communicate with them - taking a class with Galina is the only way to learn these techniques.

Galina is teaching three classes at Kiwi this week - new cast-on, bind-off and grafting methods; Russian Continental knitting; and knitting textured designs, or mooshky. These classes have been posted at the shop for some time now, and are all full except for Thursday afternoon's class on knitting mooshky. The cost is $40 per class, or $35 for Old Pueblo Knitters Guild members and Kiwi Klub members. If you are free on Thursday afternoon - even if knitting mooshky doesn't sound like your thing - I encourage you to give the shop a call at 881-1319 and sign up. I promise you that you will learn more than your money's worth.

Galina will also be speaking at the meeting of the Old Pueblo Knitters Guild on Thursday morning, November 20th at 9:30 at a.m. The guild meets at the Murphy Room at St. Philip's in the Foothills Church, located at the north-east corner of Campbell and River. Guests are always welcome and the meeting is free for guests, so do make a point of dropping in if you have the chance. There will be a short business meeting first.

To the great delight of the spinners in the group, Galina also taught an afternoon of traditional spinning techniques. Apparently, Asthma Woman here has an allergy to the raw fleeces used, although I had no such problems with the finished shawls, and trust me, she has many stunning examples for you to pet and try on, and I did!

Nonetheless, I had to duck out when the itchy face spread to include itchy lips, so I was sorry to miss even a second of what this wonderful woman had to offer. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to seeing her again at the guild meeting on Thursday. I hope to see you there, too.

Warning, she has gorgeous Russian crafts to sell, as well...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Pattern of the Month

If you frequent Kiwi Knitting as we hope you do, then you will have heard of our Kiwi Klub,and the wonderful benefits it gives members. In addition to a free Tech Class of your choice as well as other fun monthly benefits, members of the Kiwi Klub get a free Pattern of the Month. These patterns are exclusive to Kiwi Klub members, and every month there is something completely different, fun and challenging. This month, for the November Pattern of the Month, there is the Cozy Baby Cozy pattern.

The Pattern of the Month for July 2008 is called Catharine's Cap, designed by Lynn Davis, Kiwi's owner. Intended as a chemo cap, it is lined with a smooth stockinette stitch lining that is meant to be worked in a very soft yarn to comfort those sensitive scalps.

One of our favorite shop customers, Virginia Levinson made the version you see here using Silky Tweed from Elsebeth Lavold for the lace patterned outer cap, and a soft silk blend for the inner lining.

Virginia is a great fan of the Pattern of the Month feature of the Kiwi Klub. She tells me that this is one of the most challenging patterns she has tried, and also one of the most unusual patterns. It seems that no matter where she was working on the hat, lots of people had questions about how it was worked and compliments on her progress. Her daughter is now the proud owner of the hat and loves it.

Virginia tells me that she learns something new from all of the patterns of the month, and she finds the projects patterns to be very sophisticated. I know that speaking for myself, when choosing my next project I most often look for a pattern that is going to challenge me and teach me new tricks, as I firmly believe that this is one of the best ways to expand my skills as a needle-worker. This past summer and fall I have been knitting socks as holiday gifts for everyone in my family, and while you may think that there are only so many ways to make a sock, you'd be astounded at what you can learn from working a toe-up instead of a top-down, a different heel, or a new stitch pattern.

One of the other wonderful perks of Kiwi Klub membership at the moment is that it gets you the guild rate for classes sponsored by Old Pueblo Knitters guild. These classes are coming up next Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and are taught by Galina Khemeleva, one of the premier lace knitters in the world today. It seems that the Thursday class is full, the Wednesday class has one opening left, and there are still openings in the Friday class.

Next time you stop into Kiwi Knitting, take a moment to talk to Lynn about the wonderful benefits of Kiwi Klub membership. You will probably find that it is ideal for you!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Southwest Fiber Festival

Well, my fellow fiberholics. Right now my house looks like a bomb has gone off and they just need to bring the dogs in to search for survivors. This is entirely due to the fact my house is in a different place than it was last time we talked. The good news is that the chaos cannot possibly last forever. The bad news is that it sure feels that way. The other good news is that now I have taken over the second bedroom as my studio. We'll talk more about that when it is all put together and ready for public viewing.

First, let's catch up by chatting about the Southwest Fiber Festival. I have to say, for a first time event of what I hope will be many more to come, it was really well organized. Setting up seemed to run smoothly and all the vendors seemed happy with how things were going. Having done booths at farmers markets longer than I care to think about, I just knew that I could sail down to Amado that morning and get all set up in half an hour. Piece of cake. Unless, of course, one forgets to bring one's table. I thought someone else was bringing it, she knew she wasn't and knew that I was bringing the table. But thanks to the kindness of another vendor I managed to locate a sub and my very panicked start to the morning went smoothly.

My friend Monica and I were right next to Lynn's booth for Kiwi Knitting. Lynn brought lots of roving, some hand-dyed yarns, baskets from Lantern Moon, and some great books. We saw a lot of our shop regulars there, as well as new faces that were excited to hear about Kiwi.

And, of course, her knitting bag. During down times I would look across to Lynn in her chair as we both sat in the shade and worked on Christmas gifts for family.

I had the great fun of sharing a booth with my friend and knitting student, Monica Durazo. Monica, I'm delighted to say, was a huge hit with her nuno-felted silk organza blouses. Some where all white, others started with her hand-dyed rovings and/or hand-dyed silks. They were just gorgeous, and it was great fun to see her hard work so appreciated by the festival goers.

My side of the booth was all about my knitted and fulled pieces, which were then embellished with some combination of hand-worked embroidery, beading, crochet or needle-felting.

Because of the heat, I didn't explore the other vendor booths as much as I would have liked, but here is one that I really loved. The business is called Bags by Coral Lou. They had wonderful hand-made felted bags. The bags themselves are knitted by Coral Lou, and her husband does the needle-felted embellishments. I think the man is an incredible artist.

They had a number of bags at their booth, in a wide variety of styles. Once her husband finishes embellishing the outside of the bag, he hand paints the fabrics for the lining. Next Cora Lou sews the painted fabrics into the most meticulous, detailed linings.

As you can tell, I was really inspired by their pieces.

This design, of bamboo, really caught my eye with the wonderful detail.

Then she flipped the bag over and I saw that the other side of the bag has another panel of needle-felted bamboo.

And I just had to get another picture of both of them together with their wonderful art piece.

The dates are already set for next year's show with vendors and classes, and I hope that you will keep an eye out for it. I'd love to see more people from Tucson make the trip down. Amado is only a very easy half-hour trip once you are on I-19, and it would be nigh unto impossible for you to miss seeing it from the freeway. You just couldn't get lost. This year I was a vendor, next year I'm planning to take the classes that I drooled over enviously this time around.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Italian Tubular Cast-on

Last time I mentioned that I will show you a few cast-ons that are exactly the same - but done in different ways, and used for different purposes. I stumbled on this while hunting down various knitting technique videos last week. I was watching one of a cast-on and thought, Wait! that's the same thing as the Italian Tubular cast-on! Then during the week as I was pondering the wonder of all that, I realized that a certain designer's supposedly 'magical' cast-on was yet another slight variation of the exact same technique. I don't know which came first, the chicken or the egg, but you watch and see what you think.

I first found the ITCO about a year ago and immediately loved it. Like many other knitters, I really like the effect that a traditional tubular cast-on gives but find doing it very fiddly and a pain in the neck. Consequently, I was overjoyed to find a way to get the same result without all the fuss and bother. I use this whenever I am working on a project that requires a 1x1 rib (K1, P1). Socks, sleeves, sweater hems, hats... Once you give this simple and fun cast-on a try, you'll find yourself using it every chance you get.

Because my camera will only record short videos I have broken this up into two steps - the actual cast-on itself and working the first two rows are in the first video. Go grab some light-colored yarn in a weight you're comfortable with and a set of needles in the appropriate size for your yarn, and follow along with me.

The original directions I found said a couple of things that I'd like to touch on. One was that this cast-on can only be used with a even number of stitches. I've tried it with an odd number of stitches as well and found that it works just fine.

Those directions also said that you can work either 2 rows or 4 rows of the K1, slip one as if to purl wyif. I've always worked just two rows of this pattern before diving into the 1x1 rib and been happy with the result. Try it both ways and decide which you like the look of best.

Finally, the demo that I saw of this cast-on showed the knitter holding her needle between her knees while she did the cast-on with both hands. It may feel awkward to you at first, but with a tiny bit of practice it is perfectly comfortable to do this cast-on while holding the needle in your hands as you work, and I think this is far less awkward than trying to hold the needle steady between your knees.

After filming the first video, and before filming the second, I next worked about 4 rows of the 1x1 ribbing before finishing off the cast-on. You may do as many or as few of these rows as you like before taking the bottom of the cast-on apart, but do work at least a couple of rows of the ribbing before doing this next stage.

And there you have it, the Italian Tubular Cast-on.

Next time I'll show you the second of these three cast-ons.


PS- It apparently rouses the ire of the techno gods when you are smug enough to announce publicly that you have mastered any form of technology. Just so you can learn from my mistakes...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

More New Yarns

You know, I don't generally think of myself as being technically incompetent. But with the computer problems that I have had over the last month, I am beginning to question that self-assessment. However, I do believe that at last I have everything sorted out - with many grateful thanks to my very-patient husband - and all my auxiliary bits are talking to the computer as they should, and the computer is listening. Witness the fact that I was finally able to download these photos to the blog.

You might also take note that once again, I have some delicious things to show you from the parade of new yarns that are making their way into the shop. Lynn assures me that there is even more to come, so you will be seeing more new yarns here as we go along, as well as some old favorites in new colors.

First up, I want to show you the new Malabrigo Lace. I know you are familiar with the Malabrigo worsted weight, a beautiful kettle-dyed yarn in the smooshiest merino wool you could ever hope to meet. Now we have the laceweight, and I can tell you, this stuff is gorgeous. The fiber is a baby merino with 470 yds to 50 grams. The colors are very pretty and well-saturated, just as you'd expect from Malabrigo. I'll admit that my camera phone didn't do justice to the purple at the top, especially.

These would make the prettiest lace scarves for a quick, easy and luxurious gift for someone you know - or even for yourself. I've been knee-deep in my holiday gift knitting since June, so I must admit that that is where my mind is at right now. My preference is to do my gift knitting now, and sit back and smugly enjoy the approach to the holidays without a care. while selfishly knitting for myself. You are welcome to join me.

As I was laying the Malabrigo Lace out on the front table to photograph and turning to talk with Lynn, I espied these beauties hanging on the wall by the register as you come into the shop. Also by Malabrigo, this is a beautiful blend of 30% silk and 70% merino wool, with 150 yds/50 grams. I never used to be a fan of silk, I'll admit it here. My experience with woven or knitted silk fabrics in commercial clothing is that more often than not they have had a musty smell to them that is very off-putting to me, to the point where I just cannot keep that garment on my body because the smell is so overwhelming and unpleasant.

Imagine my delight in discovering that this isn't at all true of silk blend yarns! Now I am in love with the stuff, with it's texture - sometimes matte and light-absorbing, at other times adding a lovely sheen to a yarn that no other fiber can give. To me, the idea of blending silk and merino wool is just a match made in heaven. It has a softness and a vibrancy that is just a joy to work with. Lynn assures me that she has been carrying this delightful yarn for some time now. I replied that when one is as absent-minded as I am, every day is a new adventure.

Kiwi also has a couple of new yarns from Noro! (To me, this is like saying that someone has figured out a new form to put chocolate into.) The multi that you see at the top and bottom of this photo is called Yuzen. It is a 56% wool, 34% silk, and 10% kid mohair. It has a nice hand and it feels as though the drape would be wonderful. The colors blend together in a tweedy sort of way, and next to chocolate, tweed yarn - and especially yarn from Noro - would have to be one of my favorite things in life.

It is a good weight and fiber content to use with another new Noro yarn pictured here, Maiko. Maiko is 35% wool, 30% kid mohair and 35% silk at 130 yds/40 grams, in several very nice 'solid' colors that again have an almost tweedy feel to them. The colors Lynn chose to carry in the shop are really very pretty, and you should be seeing those hit the shelves sometime this week.

Next time I'm going to post more of my amateur videos, this time showing you two different very handy cast-ons for very specific purposes, that I accidentally discovered are the exact same thing! Riveting stuff. Have your yarn and needles handy.

Friday, October 3, 2008

September Sock-Mania

I hope you had the chance to take part in one of the many classes that were offered during the last month in celebration of September Sock-Mania at Kiwi. The shop offered wonderful classes in various sock patterns and sock-knitting techniques, as well as several different sock heels, and Marianne's own wonderful sock design. I got to teach my modified version of the Sherman Heel and had a great time. You should be beginning October with at least some of these incredible projects and techniques under your belt, ready to take on any sock pattern that happens to catch your fancy.

My inner two-year old, I must confess, quite often looms larger than the not-inconsiderable bulk of my outer 50-year old, and my idea of a great time is when I can regress to my mud-pie-making days in the process of creating something both beautiful and practical. And the Paint Your Own Sock Yarn class on Saturday, September 27th with Heather Ordover looks like it was my kind of fun.

Armed with various flavors of Kool-Aid, glass canning jars, rolls of plastic, sock yarn and sock blanks, everyone had a fun, creative afternoon and walked away with their very own custom-dyed sock blanks and sock yarns. For those unfamiliar with sock blanks, they are a large piece of knitted fabric made up with a doubled strand of sock yarn. I've seen some that are pre-dyed but in my mind that takes half the fun out of it. How much better to dye your own and have custom socks! Once you have dyed your sock blank, you knit your new socks straight from the knitted fabric, unraveling it as you go. When I talked to Lynn on Tuesday she was showing off her beautiful green and blue sock blank and looking forward to tackling knitting two socks at once.

They began by mixing the Kool-Aid dyes in jars of water, with labels left near them to remind them which was which. Don a pair of gloves, an apron or an old shirt, and you are ready to dive in.

Here you see Judith playing with the dyes while Heather takes notes about their choices as they go. The table gave them plenty of room to spread out the dyes, yarn and blanks.

Judith paints her blank with yellow Kool-Aid.

It looks like Linda is having great fun working on her very colorful sock blank.

Lynn gets into the act, using my favorite colors on a blank of her own.

Judith with another blank.

When the painting is finished, the dyed blanks are rolled up in plastic wrap, ready to heat up and set the dyes.

They also dyed some sock yarn.

The blanks and yarns, dyed and cooling down after setting.

Some of the finished yarns and blanks, laid out to dry.

All in all it looked like everyone had a great time and I can't wait to see the finished socks that will come from these beautiful custom-dyed yarns. I hope they will allow me to share them with you here.

Many thanks go out to Linda McKittrick for the use of these photos!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

New Fall Yarns

I am finally able to get back online. A week and a half ago my computer decided that it didn't want to play with the internet anymore. Kaput! My beloved husband, who serves as my tech support, has spent the last 11 or 12 days taking things apart, putting in new things, putting things back together again, re-loading all the software, taking things apart, putting in new things, putting things back together again, reloading all the soft-ware, taking things apart... I could keep up with emails here on his computer, but his computer wouldn't let me into Blogger, or vice versa. Now we have that working and I'll be playing catch-up this week.

The tricky thing is that his computer has all sorts of bells and whistles that mine didn't, and I am having trouble negotiating the whole mess. But I'll get there... I've always maintained that one of the little-known secrets to a happy marriage is seperate bathrooms (and not telling him how much yarn you own), but I'm starting to suspect that seperate computers might play a role as well.
Well, if you've been in the shop in the last few weeks and peeked into the back store-room, you have noticed that it is stuffed sky-high with large cardboard boxes, all filled with gorgeous yarns for fall. Some old favorites, some old faves with a new twist, and some brand-spanking new wonderful stuff. Not being one for slinging boxes around myself, I go in now and then and see what's on top.

These are the new Pagewood Farms Sock yarns. The yarns are hand-dyed in small batches and come from San Pedro, California. Yukon is a lovely, soft blend of merino superwash, bamboo, and nylon (70/20/10). The merino makes this sock yarn soft and warm, the bamboo adds a silky sheen which is really nice, and the nylon reinforces for those hard-wearing areas. At approximately 450 yards per skein, one skein should make a wonderful pair of socks.
Also from Pagewood Farms is Alyeska, a luscious blend of merino superwash, cashmere and nylon (80/10/10). This stuff is bite-your-knuckles delicious! I really had to restrain myself until Lynn gets it into the computer system and priced. You wouldn't think that just 10% cashmere could make that much difference in a yarn, and their just plain merino superwash/nylon sock yarn, Denali, is like knitting with and wearing clouds. But Alyeska is just that much more soft, cushy and smooshy.
As I said, I've used the Pagewood Farms Denali in socks and was very happy with the softness, colors and the knitability. So I can already tell you that you're going to love these yarns! Not a sock knitter? (GASP!) Think of these for lace shawls, too, and baby sweaters!

Bringing back a yarn that Lynn had when she first opened the shop, Kiwi now has several colorways of the Montage Collection Handpaints. This 8-ply yarn is spun from New Zealand wool, and as the name might tell you is hand-painted in a gorgeous array of colors. This yarn weighs out at approximately 450 yds per 200 gms. The colors are bright and vivid and I can see this turning into beautiful sweaters, slippers, hats and scarves as well as mittens and all kinds of felting projects.
Well, fellow yarnies, I have mastered getting photos from my phone to the computer and into the blog, next to conquer getting photos from my camera into this computer so that I can post about techniques. I think my husband is starting to cringe everytime I call his name...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Kaffe Fassett yarns for Fall

Lynn is starting to get in yarns from her fall orders, so I can begin to show what's going to be new for this coming fall at Kiwi! The back room is stuffed with boxes, so keep tuned as I show you what will be appearing on the shelves in the coming weeks.

First off, the wonderful Kaffe (pronounced like 'cape', but with an 'f') Fassett has come out with new colors in his popular sock yarn for Regia. This is a sampling of the colors that are new, and I have to tell you that they are very vivid and rich. Very pretty. As with the other Regia sock yarns, one ball is sufficient for the average pair of socks. I like the way that these don't pattern into very defined, solid lines. Yarns like these are a wonderful chance to work short-row heels.

Regia is also producing a sport-weight sock yarn by Kaffe Fassett, known as the 6-fadig (6 ply, as opposed to the regular sock-weight, which is 4 ply). I knitted socks last winter with another Regia 6-fadig and can tell you that it is a dream to knit with, and makes nice, comfy, bouncy socks. These should be very nice for those of you who, like me, knit for people in colder climes, or who always have cold toes - also like me!

These new fall sock yarns probably won't be hitting the shelves before early October, but keep them in mind as you plan your fall and winter knitting.

We are also carrying the Kaffe Fassett Colourscape Chunky by Regia. These yarns are %100 Lambswool, with long color changes that make it ideal for entrelac patterns, and also for felting. The 100 gm. skeins have approximately 175 yards per skein and knit up at about 3.5 sts/inch. This single-ply yarn has a spin that is very similar to Noro Kureyon, and comes in some luscious colors.

I always love to know what the new yarns are, and I'll enjoy sharing what I find out with you. Check back!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Latvian Cast-on

I know I'm a day late for posting for this last week, but once I mentioned the Latvian cast-on in the previous blog post, I realized that I really had to show you how to do it.

The tricky thing with that idea is this - how do you take a video of yourself knitting? You really need both hands for knitting, and then two spare hands for working the camera. I spent the week puzzling over how to make that work, and then last night as I was knitting I remembered my old tri-pod from my photography days. I took a few minutes of digging to find it in the back of my closet, and then I was in business! By then, of course, it was really too dark in the house to get a good video, so here we are this morning. So this week will be a double-feature!

Pardon the scratchy asthma voice, and the camera that would really rather focus on the carpet than on my hands and my knitting. I think it works pretty well, though, for my film debut!

Now for the written out instructions-

Latvian cast-on:

Very much resembles a Long-Tail cast-on in the set-up and execution. You should be able to pick this up easily!

Leaving yourself a 6-8 inch tail for weaving in later, measure out the length of yarn you need for the number of stitches you would like to cast on. Figure another 6-8 inches into that length for use later.

Now double that whole length (so that you have 2x as much yarn) except for the original 6-8 inch tail, still hanging onto your original tail in your right hand. The doubled length of yarn becomes your thumb yarn, the single strand of yarn going to the yarn ball is your finger yarn, and the 6-8 inch tail is held against your needle. Set yourself up for a regular Long-Tail cast-on.

Instead of starting with a slip knot as many people do with Long-Tail and its variations, begin by pointing your needle straight down in the space between the yarn arranged in your left hand going from thumb to finger and the inner curve of your hand between your thumb and index finger. Bring the needle firmly back against the yarn, and turn it so that it is pointing towards the finger, twisting it in the yarn as you continue to turn the needle to the upright position. See how much neater that is than a slip-knot?

Now, cast on your first (next) stitch by using the normal Long-Tail method, remembering that the doubled yarn serves as your thumb yarn in this cast on.

For the second stitch, instead of putting your thumb down through the middle of the two yarn strands and then pulling up the way your normally would, reach your thumb outside of the yarn strands and over the thumb yarn pointing downwards. Scoop your thumb under the thumb yarn and up through the middle of your thumb and finger strands.

Notice that in a normal Long-Tail, the loop around your thumb is twisted at its base. With this second, altered stitch, the thumb loop is open at its base.

Now take your needle, go over the top of the doubled thumb strand, down under the single strand thumb yarn, grab your finger yarn and bring the new stitch through the thumb loop.

Alternate the normal, more familiar stitch with the altered stitch for the number of required cast-on sts.

See how the stitches arrange themselves on your needle in pairs?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Finish Before You Begin

I'm doing something that I never, ever do. You all know by now that I've been working like a dutiful knitter on Christmas presents since June. And I'm going along pretty well, I'm proud of how far ahead of the game I am and how much I've gotten finished so far, with months yet to go before the holidays.

Until I got to my eldest sister's socks. She is a browns and rusts and oranges person, and so these socks are knitted from stash yarn in a pattern called Oak Leaf. This is a fairly easy, textured stitch pattern combining cables and lace, and it is looking gorgeous in her colors. I know she'll love these socks. But it is not in the least intuitive. Typically, lace and cable patterns become instinctive after a repeat or two. You just know in each row where the cables or the K2tog, SSKs and yo's go next. Until this one. So, in a nod to my hormones and in a bid for sanity, after finishing the first sock I have put the project into 'time out', and cast on something for myself.

The February Lady sweater. This cardigan pattern, available free through Ravelry, is based on a baby sweater pattern by Elizabeth Zimmerman. Pamela Wynne up-sized it for women, and this particular cardigan is the hottest thing since sliced bread right now. And I just happened to have enough worsted weight Cascade 220 Heather in my stash from a going-out-of-business sale a couple of years ago. I don't think the photos show the color off properly, but it is a heathered mixture of pine green and navy blue, with an odd red haze over it that is truly gorgeous.

When one even begins a sweater there are a few things to think about, and decisions to make. It is important that you consider all the various stages and their options so that you can plan the finished result before casting on the first stitch.

First, Cast-on and Bind-off. Are they going to show? In this case - a top-down raglan - the answer is yes. The cast-on is the neckline, and the bind-off is the bottom hem and the sleeve edges. This sweater begins and ends with garter stitch, so I opted to use a Latvian Cast-on (not to be confused with the Latvian Braid Cast-on), as I like the way it imitates garter stitch. I'll end with the Latvian Bind-off and have the same effect at hem and sleeve edges.

Next, I need to think about my opening edges of the cardigan. Are they going to show just as they are knitted, or will a button-band be added later? In this case, the selvedge edges will be used as is, and the button band is knitted as you go. I opted to slip my edge stitches in my favorite way - K1tbl in the first stitch in every row, work to the last stitch, yarn forward as if to purl, slip the last stitch as if to purl.

Now, there are raglan increase lines - how do I want to treat them? I have several options: I can work them according to the pattern by working them as - M1,K1,M1. This leaves a less defined and more subtle raglan line. I could work them with eyelets - yo,K1,yo. Or I can make them with a defined line by following the M1,K1,M1, but purling that center stitch on the wrong side rows. This makes the raglan lines stand out against the garter stitch background - as in mitred corners. I went with the last choice.

With a top-down raglan, after you knit the yoke of the sweater with the raglan increases, you separate the sleeves stitches from the rest of the body stitches, and put the sleeve stitches onto waste yarn. Next, you will typically cast on a small number of stitches at the underarm area that become part of the lower body stitches. Later, after the body is finished and it is time to pick the sleeve stitches up from the waste yarn and begin to knit the sleeves, you will pick up stitches at the top of those cast-on stitches at the underarm. These become part of the sleeve stitches. Because the body and the sleeves below the division point in this cardigan are knitted in a lace pattern, there isn't a secure edge to pick up sleeve stitches from later. Considering this, I cast on the underarm stitches using a Crochet Cast-on with waste yarn, then slipped these waste yarn stitches back to the right needle and knitted across them with my working yarn. Later, when it is time to work the sleeves, I can pick out the waste yarn and have live stitches to work from.

Because I have thought through the various stages of the project before beginning, I am better prepared for what happens next, have more control over the finished product, and am happier with the more finished results. Planning ahead also give you time to practice any new techniques on a swatch before incorporating them into your project.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Speaking of Knitting Bags

Well, no matter that I try my best to be an independent woman, sometimes it takes my husband to simply walk past and ask, Did you try to upload those photos one at a time? And so it seems that Blogger, at the moment, can't take big bites of photography, only little nibbles.

Sticking with my promise to show you some of the wonderful new project bags that Lynn has in the shop, I want to show you what I have been lusting after. I don't know about you, but I have always had this mental image of a knitting bag that I'm sure is a left-over from my parents knitting back in the 60s. And I'm not into vintage. I've long been convinced that in everything there should be beauty as well as function, and these bags have both qualities, in spades.

First, Kiwi has several really cute little tool bags for knitters and crocheters, just the sort of thing you need to tuck all your much-needed tools in (I'm going to go get one of those quilter's needle-grabbers, Marianne!). And they make it very easy to transfer a project from one bag to another.

Want a project bag that doesn't scream 'old lady' every time you use it? Or are you a guy knitter or crocheter who wants to be able to carry a project along? Then the Messenger Bag from Namaste is for you. The Messenger Bag has a durable corduroy exterior and lots of pockets. It measures 16"w x 12"h x 5"d at the top, 6" at the bottom. A special zipper allows you to expand the depth of the bag to a roomy 8.5".

Namaste is known for their animal-friendly materials, but even a leather bag fan such as myself would never spot these for anything but the real thing. That is the kind of compromise I really like. The Malibu Bag is spacious with an interior divider and lots of pockets. What I admire about this bag is its camouflage. No one would look at this and say knitting bag! It looks like a top line purse and you could easily use it for one when it isn't carrying around your latest project. The Malibu measures 20"w x 13"h x 8"d.

The Laguna is a bag with a slightly larger feel. It measures 17.5"w x 16"h x 7.5"d. It is chock-full of pockets, both inner and outer, with a zippered interior divider, and handles as well as a detachable shoulder strap. Also made with that buttery soft animal-friendly 'leather'.

Also in the shop but not pictured is Namaste's Knit Tube. Think of that tubular sling that you use to carry your yoga mat to class. Make it out of Namaste's durable 'leather' and divide it into two compartments for easy use. The Knit Tube measures 26"l x 6"d.

If you are planning any travel and want a small, light project bag to take on the plane, then the Airplane bag is for you. It opens into a roomy interior so that you can root around and find just what you need.

And then closes into a little silk reticule for easy carrying.

Isn't it time you treated yourself to a new project bag? Stop in and see all of our bags from Della Q and Lantern Moon as well!