Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spring Fairies

Who does not love fairies? (Well, okay, there are probably a few people.) I, for one, cannot help but smile when I think of charming little Tinker Bell from Peter Pan and other animated films of fairies and little people. After all, they take care of all things in nature and are generally good-willed, cheerful and fun.

Fiona McDonald captures the appeal of fairies in her book Knitted Fairies to cherish and charm.

Wouldn't it be fun to create your own fairy just for you or maybe, someone else to delight? Not only are there wonderful patterns for well known fairies in this book but the designer offers templates and ideas for you to create your own fairy. She even has templates to help you paint the eyes - a huge part of the charm of these dolls and also generally considered the most difficult feature to draw. I think we need a desert fairy and a saguaro fairy and a coyote fairy - those would be intriguing. This would be a fun group project.

If you are not sure about fairies check out the Mini Time Museum in Tucson. If is full of wonderul antique dollhouses with all kinds of incredible miniatures. If you look closely you will find fairies there.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Knitters and Their Bags

In the70s (maybe even earlier) there was the knitting stand. This was the height of convenience for knitters. It was portable, held large projects and had little pockets for the knitting notions we needed.

Then there were tote bags. Suddenly there were tote bags everywhere. I remember using a beach tote bag for one of my knitting projects. Businesses had totes for advertising. I especially like the ones from conferences and festivals. Not all of them were well suited to knitting - Velcro fastenings and sometimes the fabric of the tote abraded the knitting. No pockets was a definite deficiency, but then these worked for carrying knitting books. Never turn down a tote bag. Here is an assortment of some of the tote bags Lynn has collected at TNNA along with a Kiwi Knitting project bag.

There were so many tote bags, some knitters, me included, started thinking that we needed a bag for every project and then we really did need a bag for every project. Now there are a plethora of project bags. These are great. Some come with special features to hold a ball of yarn to keep it from rolling away. These bags are charming, many decorated with knitting motifs and they come in an assorment of sizes for small to large work-in-progress.

Now there are the wonderful purses that are linked with knitting like the beautiful Namaste bags. These do double duty as a purse that also carries knitting and knitting notions. Check out the lovely little Aventi bag in the lower left corner. This bag has four pockets on the outside and four on the inside and space inside for a small knit project. It is a great bag to have around while you are knitting. You can grab your scissors or tape measure quickly without digging around for it.

And of course we can make our own bags. There is something fulfilling about putting your knitting in a bag you knit.

I used to feel guilty about acquiring so many bags but now I just enjoy them. When I run out of space I donate some of them. There is always another luring me to buy it just around the corner.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Finishing for Knitters

Finishing a knitted garment is a stumbling block for most new knitters and for many experienced knitters as well. Knitting patterns may give instructions on how to finish a garment such as "seam the shoulders together with a back stitch" but the knitter needs to know how to do a back stitch. More often patterns will simply state sew the seams together. This is not a fault of the designer. Publishers of magazines have limited space. Detailed descriptions of how to assemble and seam a sweater would take too much space. Thus it is assumed that the knitter knows how to do this or can seek help from another knitter, a yarn shop or a book. This is true and now we have the ultimate guide to finishing our knits.

I have long been a fan of Deborah Newton for her book Designing Knitwear. She has a gift for writing clear and easy to understand instructions. This gift is very apparent in her latest book Finishing School, a master class for knitters.

Everything about finishing knitting is covered in this book. The tips and techniques on finishing start before the sweater is even begun. Many finishing problems can be prevented if the knitter considers how the sweater will be finished before starting. Of course swatching is included in this. So sorry, but it is true. I know we want to jump right into a pattern essentially without a life jacket but swatching can make or break a project. Try telling yourself "swatching is fun, swatching is fun". You get to play with the yarn and stitch patterns and any trims or details and learn most of what you need to know before you start. There will not be any or as much ripping, tinking, re-doing later on -a plus, right?!

Like most knitters I dreaded finishing. I thought I would ruin all of my knitting trying to put all the sweater pieces together. Now I know I have ruined more things by not swatching or adding selvedge, i.e. seam, stitches when I started. I discovered much of this before Deborah Newton's book (probably from her first book and a few others) but I am thrilled to have some of what I have done validated by her book and to learn even more tips and techniques. Thank you, thank you to Deborah Newton. For all knitters of sweaters - any garment, really - get this book. I am reading it cover to cover.