Thursday, October 25, 2012

Taos Wool Festival Travelogue

Taos Wool Festival on a Gorgeous Day in October

Wool Festivals are sprouting up all over. Spinners and ranchers know about them but I think they might be less well known to knitters.
Young alpacas

I was able to attend the Taos Wool Festival this year. This was their 30th anniversary. Like most wool festivals it was started by the sheep ranchers to display and sell their wool and sheep. This has grown to all things wool with other fiber bearing animals like llama, alpaca and angora bunnies.
Beautiful handmade spindles, knitting needles and very nice people
And then there are vendors of weaving and spinning tools, spindles, knitting needles, crochet hooks
An intrepid kitten on a leash named Callie unfazed by all the dogs.
You never know what you will see at a a Festival.

Winners in HandspunYarn Judging
There were lots of fun contests like who could spin the longest yarn in 2 minutes and two-person spinning with one treadling and one drafting the fiber. These gorgeous yarns were champions in Handspun yarns.
Art yarns with lovely little flowers
Then there are the gorgeous yarns and fibers for sale.
Most festivals include workshops, food vendors and demonstrations such as shearing, weaving and spinning.
There is a Wool Festival coming up here in southwest Arizona in Tubac on November 3, 2012. Check it out on the web:
See you at Kiwi’s after the Festival. .

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Picture Tutorial for Chain Cast On

I love this cast-on - the Chain Cast-On AKA Crochet Cast-On.  It looks just like the usual knit bind-off and slip stitch selvedges.  In the photo below the lower edge of each point is cast on, the side edge is a slip stitch selvedge. They match - almost as if the whole piece was crocheted around the edge.

Merging Colors Vest by Candace Strick

Can you tell which edge was cast on and which was bound off on this swatch?

Here is how to do the cast-on:

Start with a slip stitch on the crochet hook and the yarn behind the knitting needle.

Reach over the knitting needle and hook the yarn to pull through the slip stitch.

Now there is one loop on the knitting needle. Move the yarn behind the knitting needle for the next stitch and reach over the top of the knitting needle for the next stitch
 Now there are two. Note the yarn is behind the needle and ready for the 3rd stitch. Continue with these steps until you have the number of stitches less one.

The last stitch is the one on the crochet hook. Pull it off the hook and place it on the knitting needle. You are ready to knit.
You can do this without a crochet hook  by chaining with your fingers. It is a little harder to keep the chain stitches even. Practice helps. This is a good alternative if you have trouble holding the yarn, crochet hook and knitting needle.
Cast-On at the edge of a Work in Progress:
This cast -on can be used to cast on stitches at the edge of a work in progress – say a side to side sweater when you need to cast on the body stitches.
Start by putting the crochet hook through the first stitch on the left needle and pull a loop through that stitch. Then put the yarn behind the knitting needle, take the crochet hook over the knitting needle and work as above. In this photo the last loop had just been pulled through and the yarn has not been moved to the back yet.
Same Cast-on Used as a Provisional Cast-On
This is a very versatile cast-on. It can be a starting cast-on or as a provisional cast-on where you use a waste yarn and remove it later. If you are going to use the chain cast-on to be removed later be sure to leave a few extra chains when you stop so you remember where to start unraveling. (See the tail of waster yarn on the swatch above.) Be sure to do the first row of your working yarn in the knit stitch. Any other stitches like purls will not come out easily.
The nice thing about using the chain cast-on a provisional cast-on is that you can remove the chains one by one. This makes it easier to pick up the live stitch and put it on a needle.
This is a great way to start a knit garment. Start with a provisional cast-on and decide on what edges you want later - maybe a hem or something worked sideways. It is also useful for knitting on lace edges. You have live stitches for to knit the edge when you remove the waste yarn.  It is also a way to start a scarf in the middle by using the provisional chain cast-on. Work one end, then remove the waste yarn and work the second end. Some pattern work best this way as each end is worked in the same direction so they match.
Have fun with this cast-on.