Sunday, May 19, 2013

A New Look

In the next day or so, my website will get a facelift. The calendar will be updated regularly with my teaching schedule and classes, and patterns will be available for download. I'm starting out small, but I hope to add two or three designs a year.
The prospect has be a little overwhelmed, but I can't contain my excitement.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Inserting a Zipper

The zipper I ordered from Zipper Source arrived and I hurried to sew it into my Glory Days jacket so that I might be able to wear it before the summer heat hits.
I ordered a #5 Molded Plastic But-To-Length 18" zipper, medium length with an open end and autolock tab in Bordeaux.
I took photos as I inserted the zipper (I apologize for their poor quality) to demonstrate how easy it is to add a zipper to handknits.
First, pin the zipper in place. I pinned it so that the I-cord edging met along the zipper teeth.
Next, use a contrasting yarn to baste each side, removing pins as you go. The turquoise thread I used looks white in this photo.

Here's how the basted zipper looks from the wrong size.
Next, use small stitches with coordinating thread to sew the edges of the zipper tape to the wrong side of the garment.
Finally, work backstitches with coordinating thread to sew the right side of the garment close to the zipper teeth. You can hardly see the needle in this photo. I'm following a column of stitches along the garment side of the I-cord edging.
Remove the basting and you're done! My backstitches didn't follow a very straight line, but they hold the zipper firmly in place.
I'll soaked the jacket again to block the collar and set the zipper stitches, and it will be ready to wear!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Meet Me in Rhinebeck

It's official -- Not only will I be attending, but I'll be teaching this fall at the New York Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, NY, Thursday, October 17 through Sunday, October 20.

Here's what I'll be teaching:
Thursday 9am to 4pm: Top-Down Socks with Round Heel and Wedge Toe
Friday 9am to 4pm: Cast-On and Bind-Off Techniques
Saturday 9am to 12pm: Socks At Any Gauge
Saturday 1:30pm to 4:30pm: Conquering Kitchener Stitch
Sunday 9am to 12pm: Conquering Kitchener Stitch
Sunday 1:30pm to 4:30pm: Socks at Any Gauge

For more information on all the classes, go to

I hope to see you there!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Weekday Raglan: Choosing a Size

After my washed, blocked, and dried swatch hung with weights for a day, the gauge measures 27 stitches and 39 rounds = 4".
That translates to 6.75 stitches and 9.75 rounds = 1".

The gauge for the sweater is listed at 6 sts/inch (page 93 of The Knitter's Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters). I like the density of my swatch and wouldn't want to change to larger needles (and a looser fabric) to match that in the pattern. Instead, I want to see if I can follow the instructions for a larger size and end up with the size I want.

I'd like a bust circumference of 40", which means I need 40" x 6.75 sts/in = 270 stitches just below the armhole. The total number of body stitches are given on page 96, at the end of the heading "Divide for Body and Sleeves. The largest size has 276 stitches, which would translate to a bust circumference of 40.9" at my gauge. The second-to-largest size has 252 stitches, which would translate to a bust circumference of 37.3". Neither of these is exactly what I want, but the largest size is closest.

I've decided to follow the instructions for the largest size for all stitch counts, but because I'd rather err on the smaller size, I think I'll omit the last raglan increase so that I'll end up with 268 stitches for the body. That will give a bust circumference of 39.7".

I'll count rows rather than simply measure vertical distances to make sure that the lengths will reflect the after-hanging row gauge.

It's time to cast on!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Weekday Raglan

During the recent snow, I consoled myself by knitting a swatch for the Weekday Raglan (page 92 of The Knitter's Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters) that I plan to knit for myself. The sample sweater for the book is much too small for me so I'll be following instructions for a larger size.

For my version, I've chosen Grignasco Champagne (75% extra fine merino, 25% mulberry silk; 165 meters/50 grams) in a soft periwinkle color (#375) knitted on size US 5 (3.75 mm) needles. Because I'll knit the sweater in rounds, I worked my gauge swatch like a giant I-cord, knitting across the stitches, then sliding them back to the needle tip, bringing the yarn loosely around the back, and knitting the stitches again. In this way, every stitch is knitted on every row, just as when knitting in rounds. 

The back of the swatch is a bit of a mess:

But the front shows smooth stockinette in which every row is knitted:

My gauge on the unwashed swatch is 29 stitches and 38 rows = 4". (The 5 purl stitches near the bottom are there to remind me that I knitted this swatch on size 5 needles.)
After washing and blocking, my gauge changed to 26 stitches and 38 rows = 4". Don't ask me how the stitch gauge can vary while the row gauge stays the same.
Because this yarn contains silk, there's a good chance that it will stretch with wear. Therefore, I'm hanging the swatch and weighting the bottom with binder clips to simulate what might happen after the full-size sweater has been worn a while:

I'll measure the stitch and row gauge tomorrow to see if there is what's called a "hang gauge" that might affect the finished size of the sweater.

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Big Melt

My fingers are crossed, but I think the snow here is melting for good.
Here's what my backyard looked like when I got up yesterday morning after the latest storm that dropped another foot:

Here's the same view today, following a full day of bright sunshine:
Just look at all that lovely green!
We normally face water restrictions during the summers due to our arid climate. But we've gotten nearly 10.5 feet of snow this winter (and 5 feet in the past 4 weeks!), so it looks as though there'll be no restrictions this year.
But better yet, the wildfire danger is minimal as we approach the one-year anniversary of the worst wildfire season on record. What a relief!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May Day

We had the snowiest April on record -- four feet of the cold white stuff in fewer than four weeks. The temps finally became seasonal over the weekend and I thought that we were done with winter for good. Imagine my surprise when I looked out the window this morning.

That's another 6" of snow, and it keeps coming down! Thankfully, the forecast is for sunny skies and temps into the 40s and 50s for the rest of the week. Still, I don't suppose it's safe to put away my heavy sweaters just yet.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

So Close

Here's my Glory Days saddle-shoulder cardigan, following the general instructions in The Knitter's Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters. I added a foldover collar, which I finished with an I-cord bind-off to match the body.

I was at a photo shoot and snapped a shot on a mannequin when everyone wasn't looking. All that's left is the zipper. I ordered one from Zipper Source but it will be a couple of weeks before it ships. I thought about ordering it earlier but I'm glad I didn't -- the I-cord edging tightened up the front opening and I would have ordered a zipper that was too long.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Completed Body

I finally finished knitting the body of my sweater from Briar Rose Glory Days yarn. I worked I-cord bind-offs on the sleeves and lower body, which gives a nice, unobtrusive edge. I also picked up stitches along the center front selvedges and worked I-cord bind-offs there as well. All that's left is to finish the neck. I still think I'll work a fold-over collar, but I may change my mind once I have the stitches picked up -- maybe a simple I-cord bind-off would be nice, too.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Another Top-Down Sweater

In the past weeks, I've taught several classes on knitting sweaters from the top down with a focus on circular yoke and raglan constructions from The Knitter's Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters. I've taken a few garments from the book along for inspiration.
I guess it worked, because when I was teaching at Wild Purls in Billings, Montana, I found myself purchasing yarn to make a version of the Weekday Raglan (page 92) for myself. The sample sweater was knitted in a skimpy size 34", which is fine for models who are paid to pass on chocolate, but which makes me look like a badly stuffed sausage.
I chose Grignasco Champagne (75% extra fine merino, 25% mulberry silk; 165 meters/50 grams) in a soft periwinkle color (#375). I really shouldn't start swatching this until I finish the saddle-shoulder top-down cardigan, but I probably won't be able to resist.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

And The Snow Keeps Falling

It's springtime here in the Rockies, which means anything goes as far as the weather is concerned. We're accustomed to schizophrenic jumps from snow to dry sunshine in April, but this year is much heavier on the snow side of things. Living in an arid climate that's had more years of drought than not in the past decade, I'm grateful for any moisture.
But I do wish I could see the daffodils and tulips that started blooming a couple of weeks ago. Instead, this is what my backyard looked like a few days and 10" of snow ago. And there's another storm in the forecast.
Good thing I have my knitting to keep me busy!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

I'm speechless

I was going to publish another post but, given the tragedy in Boston, I think I'll observe a day of silence instead.
Wishing you all peace and safety.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Another Winner

Thanks to everyone who responded to the 200,000-hit raffle.

The random-number generator chose Needleworker, who, on 
April 9, 2013 at 2:16 AM
I am a late reader of your blog (very enjoyable) as are your books. I am a new knitter & am looking forward to Knitting numerious things your books seem so sensible giving me the the tools to be creative :) I have a lot of your books all the sock ones as well as the patterns & sweater books :)So I would really like (if I am lucky)

Knitted Gifts: Irresistible Projects to Make and Give Thanks you Ann for Joy re blog & books long may you continue

Congratulations Needleworker! Send me your mailing address (click on the link at the upper right corner of my blog page) and I'll get the book in the mail to you.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Approaching 200,000!

Check out the meter at the bottom of this blog page -- it will hit the 200,000 mark today! Either a lot of people have been reading this blog or a few people are visiting the site an astronomical number of times. I prefer to believe the former.
Those of you who have been following for a while know what this kind of milestone brings -- another raffle for the print copy of one of my books.
Respond to this post and tell me which book you'd like (sorry, the upcoming Scarf Style 2 is not eligible -- it won't be available until this summer) and why (it helps me know what appeals to readers). I'll use a random number generator to draw a winner Wednesday morning. I'll then post the winner on a separate post. If I don't hear back from the winner within three days, I'll draw another winner, and so on.
Good luck!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Inching Toward the Hem

I've been knitting on and off on my top-down saddle shoulder sweater and was certain that I must be at the hem. But when I stretched out the stitches on a piece of string, I found that I still have 3" to go on the body and a few inches for each sleeve.

I'm so close that this will become a priority so I might be able to wear it before the weather gets too warm. Once the body and sleeves are done, I'll decide about the collar and send away for a perfectly matched zipper. Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Another Pair of Socks!

When I was traveling last week I finished my Seeded Rib socks out of Wacky Windmill yarn. The pattern is from Getting Started Knitting Socks (page 88, but I worked 1" of k3, p2 rib at the cuffs and I held the yarn in front of the slipped stitches of the heel flaps); the yarn colorway is Found A Penny. I debated whether I should save these as a gift, but I decided to put them on right after I snapped the photo (before I even wove in the ends). They're perfect!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Ready for PreOrder!

As usual, I've had to be mum about my next book and could only show you an artistic image of the projects.
But I can now divulge that Scarf Style 2 is heading to printer soon and is ready for pre-order from Amazon (it doesn't seem to be available directly from Interweave yet).

Like the original Scarf Style by Pam Allen (published by Interweave in 2004), Scarf Style 2 is a collection of innovative neck coverings from a couple dozen diverse designers. From the traditional to the unexpected, there's something for every taste in neckwear, including textured stitch patterns, lace, cables, and colorwork that run the gamut from very simple to challenging, casual to dressy, and demure to flamboyant.
I sure hope you'll love it as much as I do!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Closing in on the Hem

After a few evenings of concentrated knitting, I am finally approaching the hem of my Briar Rose Glory Days cardigan.
Right now, the body measures close to 10". I think I want the total body length to be about 13", but I'll have to check a sweater that has a similar fit to be sure. In any case, I need to decide if there will be a bit a regular rib (k3, p1) at the end and whether or not I'll go ahead with an I-cord bind-off.
A nip of a strong beverage may help me decide.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Lot of Little Sweaters

I am on my way to Billings, Montana, to teach sweater construction at Wild Purls Yarns, an adorable yarn shop in what's left of the Wild West. I will teach classes in working sweaters both from the bottom up in pieces that get seamed and from the top-down in a single seamless piece. In both classes, we'll knit adorable little sweaters. Here are my class samples (in various degrees of completion).

The three sweaters on the left are for the bottom-up class. In this two-day class (with homework), students get to choose between drop shoulder, modified-drop shoulder, and set-in sleeve construction with round or V-necks. By the end of the class, everyone is able to sew perfect (or nearly perfect) seams and pick up stitches evenly and beautifully.
The two sweaters on the right are for the top-down class. This class is only one day because there are no seams, but I don't expect anyone to get beyond the point where the body and sleeves are divided at the end of the day (their homework will be to finish the body and sleeves on their own). For this class, the students will choose between seamless yoke and raglan construction; those who choose the raglan will also get to choose between round and V-necks.
Assuming that everything goes well, I'll have images of student samples, which usually show a nice array of colors and patterns.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Second-Sock Syndrome?

In most cases, I cast on and start the second sock as soon as the first is completed. In the case of the socks I'm knitting from Wacky Windmill yarn, I got distracted with other projects. And that's a shame because I really love the yarn (my photo does not do justice to the rich coppery colorway) as well as the pattern (I'm following the stitch pattern for Seeded Rib Socks on page 88 of Getting Started Knitting Socks -- but at 8 stitches/inch instead of 6 stitches/inch). But I'm back on track now and have knitted about half of the leg.
The first sock is for reference -- I always count rows to make sure the second sock matches the first. The markers are placed every 20 rounds along the foot, with the last one placed on the row before I begin the toe shaping. I find psychological comfort in placing markers as I go so I can see my progress.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Inching Along

It seems that I'm on a knitting treadmill--I knit and knit but don't see any apparent progress on the body of my Briar Rose Glory Days sweater.
But this is giving me lots of time to think about the edgings. I still think I'd like a standard fold-over collar at the neck and a zipper closure. But now I'm wondering if it wouldn't be cool to trim it all with I-cord. I can use the I-cord bind-off on the sleeves and lower body. For the fronts, I can pick up stitches along the selvedges, then work the I-cord bind off to make a nice edging against the zipper. But I haven't quite gotten my head around how the collar will fit it. Should I work an I-cord edging on the collar as well, or would that be too much?
At lease, at this rate, I won't have to make a decision for a while.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Signs of Spring

We've had a bit of cold and snow lately (great knitting weather), and just when I was thinking that spring would never arrive, look what I saw peeking out of the snow!
It won't be long before that turns into a bright red tulip -- happy harbingers of spring to you all!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Just Can't Stop

I'm charging along on my Briar Rose sweater! It didn't seem to take any time to knit the sleeves --decreases will do that. I haven't bound off the cuffs yet because I want to try on the finished sweater to fine-tune their length. Because there is no shaping in the body, this I've been able to work on it while watching movies or knitting with friends. At this rate, it won't be long before I get to the hem.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Surging Ahead

Not only have I reached the point where I was before ripping out, I've successfully worked the upper part of one sleeve. The sleeve is worked by picking up stitches around the armhole (including the held saddle stitches), then working short-rows to fill in the cap. The advantage of working sleeves this way is that you don't have to sew any seams. Just look at that beautiful transition between body and sleeve!

Monday, February 25, 2013


I've gone back to my Briar Rose sweater and am almost back to where I had to rip out. This time you'll notice that the live stitches of both shoulder straps are facing the armholes as they should. I'm so proud.
I haven't minded retracing my steps on this one because I enjoy the combination of yarn and stitch pattern. I'm also motivated to get it finished before I have to put all my sweaters away for the summer.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Join Me at the Castle

I am happy to announce that I've been selected to teach at Knit East 2013, the Atlantic Fibre Fest sponsored by Cricket Cove this fall (check out their Ravelry group: KnitEast).

This festival includes "classes, marketplace, demos, yoga for knitters, spinning 101, contests, and everything in between" September 27, 28, and 29, 2013. The event takes place at the historic Algonquin Resort, a tudor-style castle (!) that overlooks Passamaquoddy Bay in St Andrews By-the-Sea, New Brunswick, Canada. I don't make it to the East Coast to teach very often and I've haven't taught in Canada before -- and I've certainly never stayed in a castle -- so I'm pretty excited about this trip.
And the teacher line-up is pretty impressive, too, including Susan B. Anderson, Deb Barnhill, Bristol Ivy, Mary Jane Mucklestone, and the Yarn Harlot herself -- Stephanie Pearl McPhee! I don't know what pearls they will be teaching, but I can tell you that I'll teach Sweaters from the Top Down (gotta promote The Knitter's Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters, doncha know), Cast-On Techniques, and Introduction to Sweater Design. 
If you can fit it into your schedule and budget, I'd love to meet you there!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

One Sock Down

It started snowing late yesterday afternoon so I brewed some tea and curled up under an afghan to knit away the evening hours. Once the heel is turned, this sock is smooth sailing to the toe. I worked the gusset decreases adjacent to single purl stitches at the edges of the instep stitches for a clean demarcation between the instep and sole. I finished with Kitchener stitch.
I'm quite delighted with the sproingy nature of the yarn/stitch pattern combination!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wacky Windmill Sock

I decided to take break from the sweater and work on a sock.
The yarn is a gift from The Wacky Windmill (TWW Crazy Sock in Find a Penny colorway). I'm following the pattern for the Seeded Rib Socks on page 88 of Getting Started Knitting Socks.
Yes, I am shamelessly using this venue to promote my own book.
I've just finished picking up stitches for the gusset and have made four deviations from the printed pattern:
1. Because I'm getting a gauge of about 8 stitches/inch (instead of the 6 stitches/inch specified), I'm following the stitch counts for the second-to-largest size (CO 72 sts) to end up with socks that will be about 8 1/2" in circumference.
2. I used one size larger needles (3.0 mm) for the cast on and upper half of the leg, then changed to size 2.75 mm needles for the rest of the sock. I placed a marker in the leg on the row where I changed needle sizes.
3. I worked the heel flap in the Reversed Slip 1, Knit 1 pattern (see page 27), in which the yarn is held to the front as every other stitch is slipped. This produces more of a woven texture than the standard thickly ribbed texture.
4: To balance the seeded rib pattern on the heel (and therefore on the instep as well), I worked the first row under the Heel heading by knitting 17 stitches (instead of the 18 instructed). I turned the work, then purled 36 stitches as instructed and worked the rest of the heel as instructed.
Here's what I've got so far:

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Why I'm a Spoiled Brat #20

Last week I had the exceedingly good fortune to take part in Cat Bordhi's Visionary Retreat, which is a symbiotic group of knitters, spinners, and crocheters. Most (but not all) visionaries have published works and most of those have been self published. It was an exciting adventure in new ideas and techniques that left me weak in the knees.
On each end of the retreat I stayed with visionary Jeny Staiman of Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off fame (check out her blog at Jeny is a self-proclaimed knitting geek and the creator of several ingenious patterns that are FREE through Ravelry. We had mind-bending conversations about bind-offs, cast-ons, and sock construction. As I headed out the door, Jeny handed me a goodie bag of tasty morsels, which included jerky from the elk her husband shot, chocolate, and a pair of her most fascinating Double Heelix socks! Check out those heels--that's where the socks begin! And don't you just love the spot of contrast at the toes? I'll need a new pair of shoes to show them off.
Click here to download the pattern that was initially published in

Friday, February 15, 2013

Another Winner

My father thanks you all for the birthday wishes! The winner is the 11th comment (Feb 8 at 11:52 am), in which Malin said:
Happy birthday to your father! He is the same age as my garndmother and she certainly couldn't go downhill skiing, wow! It must be the Norwegian sweater ;-)
I'd love to win Knitted gifts, it is full of small fun projects.
Malin, send me your mailing address and I'll get the book in the mail.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Do I Feel Stupid

We all do stupid things when knitting and I'm certainly no exception. I thought I'd knit the sleeves before finishing the body so that I could get all of the shaping out of the way. Imagine my dismay when I took the waste yarn out of the saddles and realized that I had attached one in the wrong direction. The live stitches are supposed to be at each armhole edge, but they are at the neck edge on one side!
I didn't have stitch holders with me when I knitted the saddles so I put the live stitches on lengths of the working yarn. Because I didn't use contrasting yarn, I didn't notice that I had one oriented the wrong way when I picked up stitches for the back. I toyed with the idea of just picking up stitches along the cast-on edge of the errant saddle, but that would spoil the continuous line from neck to cuff and it would have been apparent (to me at least) that the stitch pattern changed directions at the join.
Here's what I can salvage: two saddles, one front, and a few balls of kinky yarn.
Thank goodness I didn't decide to knit the entire body before the sleeves!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Glory Days -- Upper Body Complete

The fronts are little tricky because you have to remember to work short-rows to shape the shoulders at the same time as new stitches are cast on at the neck edge, all while maintaining the stitch pattern. Fortunately, the stitch pattern repeats over just four stitches and there are only three steps to the short-rows and five steps to the neck shaping so it's all over pretty quickly.
I've joined the fronts and back here. In order to maintain pattern continuity around the sides, I cast on 11 stitches (instead of 12) at the base of each armhole. That gave me a total of 241 stitches (instead of the 240 called for in the second chart of number on page 200), which is a multiple of 4 stitches +1.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Ninety-Two Years!

Today my father turns 92 and that's cause for celebration. If he hadn't dragged the family to Switzerland in 1968 so he could do research in Europe and northern Africa, I might never have learned to knit.
Those of you who have followed my blog for a couple of years will remember that he had a bad accident on his daily bike ride that landed him in the hospital with 7 broken ribs and a punctured lung. He recovered and continues to bike whenever the weather allows. Today, my brothers and sister will take him downhill skiing to celebrate. I'm enormously proud of him.
Here he is in a photo I took a couple of years ago. I knitted the sweater he's wearing back in 1980 and he's worn it most days between October and March since then. I wish I remembered what yarn I used because it has never pilled and shows very little sign of wear more than 30 years later.
I am participating in a retreat (on San Juan Island!) and won't be able to celebrate with the rest of the family today. So, I'll celebrate by holding a raffle for one of my print books (check out my website for a list; sorry--electronic books are not included in this offer). Respond to this post to indicate which book you'd like and why and I'll use a random-number generator to draw a name when I return home next Thursday.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

ACK -- There's an Error in the Book!

Well, I was feeling smug about the quick progress I've made so far on the Glory Days sweater and I should know better.
When I started to knit the front, I realized that the book doesn't mention that the shoulders have to be shaped with short-rows to match the back. I can't tell you how many times I flipped back and forth between the pages, but the errant instructions never appeared.
I am mortified and I apologize for the omission! To make it worse, the error was repeated for the child instructions too.
Here are the corrections:
Page 177 (Child Sizes): The heading for Crewneck Style at the bottom of the left column should read:
Working each set of front sts separately, work 1 WS row even.
Work short-rows to shape the shoulders as for back and at the same time shape neck as foll: ...
Page 178 (Child Sizes): The heading for V-Neck Style at the bottom of the right column should read:
Working each set of front sts separately, work 1 WS row even.
Work short-rows to shape the shoulders as for back and at the same time shape neck as foll: ...
Page 192 (Adult Sizes): The heading for Crewneck Style in the center of the page should read:
Working each set of front sts separately, work 1 WS row even.
Work short-rows to shape the shoulders as for back and at the same time shape neck as foll: ...
Thankfully, I managed to remember the shoulder shaping for the adult V-neck style on page 195.

Glory Days -- Off to a Good Start

Sometimes the combination of yarn, needles, and stitch pattern come together so beautifully that a garment seems to knit itself. That seems to be the case with the Briar Rose Glory Days yarns, size 5 needles, and textured rib pattern that I'm using for my next sweater.
I'm following the instructions for a saddle-shoulder cardigan in The Knitter's Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters (page 187) for a 40" circumference at 6 stitches to inch.
The textured rib pattern is a multiple of 4 stitches + 1, so instead of working the saddles on 20 stitches as directed for my size/gauge on page 187, I worked each on 21 stitches. To make it easier to pick up stitches along the edges of the saddles later, I knitted the first and last stitch of every row to make garter selvedge stitches:
RS rows: K1 (selvedge st), *k1, sl 1. k2; rep from * to last 4 sts, k1, sl 1, k1, k1 (selvedge st).
WS rows: K1 (selvedge st), *p3, k1; rep from * to last 4 sts, p3, k1 (selvedge st).
To begin the back, I picked up 24 stitches across one saddle, used the knitted method to cast on 41 stitches (instead of the 40 instructed to accommodate the stitch pattern), then picked up 24 stitches across the other saddle. This gave me a total of 89 stitches (instead of 88), which balanced the stitch pattern at the two armhole edges (with right-side facing, both sides have a selvedge stitch followed by a k3 column).
Again, knitting the first and last stitch of every row for garter selvedges, I shaped the shoulders with short-rows (in two increments of 7 stitches as directed, but working 8 stitches in the last increment), then worked straight for 6 1/4" (indicated by the marker), then started the armhole by increasing one stitch (using the M1 technique) at each end of the needle every right-side row six times, followed by casting on 4 stitches at each side to end with a total of 109 stitches (instead of 108).
I've just picked up 24 stitches along the other edge of one saddle to begin working the right front.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Two New Starts

I started two (2!) projects last weekend.
As promised, I swatched The Wacky Windmill yarn (the colorway is Find a Penny) and decided to knit  the Seeded Rib Socks on page 88 of Getting Started Knitting Socks. The socks in the book were knitted at a gauge of 6 stitches/inch, but I want a denser fabric. I get just over 8 stitches/inch on size U.S. 2 (2.75 mm) needles. I figure that if I follow the instructions for the second-to-the-largest size (cast on 72 stitches), the socks should end up about 8 1/2" in circumference, which is the size I want, and work perfectly with the 6-stitch pattern repeat.
For this pair, I decided to work k4, p2 ribbing for the first inch instead of starting the seeded rib pattern right after the cast-on. For flexibility, I used the Old Norwegian cast-on, which is my go-to technique for top-down socks.
I also swatched the Briar Rose Glory Days yarn that I got to knit a replacement for the Unisex Zip that I knitted out of Briar Rose Legend (which is no longer available) for the The Knitter's Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters (see my blog post for Dec 3, 2012, titled Unisex Zip Revisited). The sweater never made it into the print book but is included in the electronic version.
I swatched the same simple two-row pattern:
RS rows: *k3, sl 1; rep from *.
WS rows: *p2, k1, p1; rep from *.
I like the fabric best knitted at 6 stitches/inch on size 5 (3.75 mm) needles. I loved knitting the swatch and am anxious to cast on for a saddle-shoulder zip-front cardigan. (I apologize for the blurry image!)
 Anyone want to place bets on which project I finish first?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Back at It

Am I ever glad that January is behind us. The days are noticeably longer and the sun is minutely stronger every day. I think I can safely say that the doldrums are behind me.
This week, I finally finished a sweater that I started more than a year ago -- the Diamond Jacket from Marion Foale's Knitting Collection 1.
This is the first sweater I've knitted at such a fine gauge--9 stitches to the inch on size 1 (2.25 mm) needles. I bought the yarn, pattern, and buttons at Tutto Santa Fe, which I make a point of visiting whenever I'm in Santa Fe. The stitch pattern is a series of stockinette and reverse stockinette triangles that form an embossed texture. The edgings are all garter stitch, which I absolutely love when knitted at fine gauges.
Finishing the sweater gave me unexpected creative energy and I promptly went out and had my hair cut very short and ordered purple (!) glass frames.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Why I'm a Spoiled Brat #19

One of the students in the Sweater Design Basics and Finishing class I taught last week for Craft Cruises Knit & Ski in Steamboat Springs, CO, is one of a growing number of indie dyers. I'll call her Kim because that's her name. Kim lives in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, blogs at  The Wacky Windmill, sells yarns and batts through The Wacky Windmill Shop on etsy.
On the last (which also happened to be the second) day of class, Kim presented me with a skein of fingering weight yarn that she had dyed. Not only did Kim use one of my most favorite fiber combinations for socks (80% merino, 10% cashmere, 10% nylon; 435 yd/100 g), but she dyed it in the rich golds, rusts, and burgundies that I cannot resist.

I've decided to use Kim's generous gift for a pair of socks for my own selfish self (I haven't knitted myself a pair of socks since I finished the Pussy Willow Stockings in Sock Knitting Master Class back in September). For fun, I'll use a pattern (I decide on which one after I swatch) from my own Getting Started Knitting Socks. I plan to wind the yarn as soon as publish this post and knit the socks during my upcoming travels. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Going International

My teaching will go international this September and I couldn't be more excited.
For the week of September 16-22, I will teach at the Bon Tricot (that's Good Knitting!) Tour hosted by Kristeen Griffen-Grimes, author of French Girl Knits and French Girl Knits Accessories books, and her family-run company Belle France Tours.
The purpose of the excursion is to "knit and relax in the beautiful south of France." I will provide four mornings of knitting instruction, then we will be free the rest of the day to enjoy the local culture and cuisine, and to knit, of course. We haven't settled on the classes I'll teach (in English), but I plan to keep them fun and informative but not overly taxing (we'll be in France, after all).
Here's a view from where we'll be staying:
Click here for more information. I sure would love to meet some of you there!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Class Success

Here's a photo of the students' efforts in my two-day class on sweater basics and finishing. They all learned to shape armholes, mirror decreases, sew different types of seams, pick up stitches, and work an elastic bind-off. I think there are going to be a lot of well-dressed teddy bears!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Into the Frying Pan

No need for a jump-start anymore -- I'm in the middle of a two-day class for Craft Cruises Knit & Ski in Steamboat, Colorado. It's a cool 8 degrees here with snow in the forecast -- good knitting weather, I think.
I'm teaching Sweater Basics and Finishing to 15 students. The class is taking place at Sew Steamboat, an adorable knitting and sewing shop in the historic center of town. I'm staying in the historic Bristol Hotel right next door. Talk about historic -- how many of you recognize the black box on the bedside table?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Knitting Again

Yesterday one of my sons was in a wrestling tournament, which meant that I sat in the bleachers for about five hours in order to see him on the mat for a grand total of 7 minutes. Of course, I took my knitting. And about an hour into the tournament I got it out. I think my gauge may have suffered when I tensed up watching kids twisted in grotesque ways, but I did knit. When we got home, I sat in a comfy chair with a glass of wine and knitted some more. And I woke up today wanting to knit instead of doing the house or office work. I think I'm past the hump.
Here's proof (I apologize for the blurry image):
 And, as for my son, he took second place (that's him in the red):

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Getting On

Thanks to all of you who offered sympathy and kind words in response to my last post. I can't tell you how touched I am to receive good wishes from so many that I've never even met. Knitters are the best!
Here are some of the helpful suggestions and how I'm applying them:
1. Accentuate the positive: I have been quite successful finding silver linings--the two men who died are at peace and will never feel pain or anxiety again; my son has decided that he'll go to college next year instead of taking a year off to be a ski bum.
2. Sleep, eat whatever you want, and watch the birds: Done. I've been taking naps, eating chocolate (five pounds, according to my bathroom scale), and I've been watching the birds and squirrels outside my office window (instead of working).
3. Go for a walk: I did that today and enjoyed the balmy 45-degree sunshine. Here's a photo of the scenery from a nearby park. (This also gives me another excuse to take another nap.)
4. Get antidepressants and therapy: In progress.
5. Read a book or watch a favorite TV show or movie: I started Joy of Man's Desiring by Jean Giono, which is a magical tail of how a couple in provincial France rediscover happiness, "the passion for the impractical, the useless."
6. Sit in a comfy chair with a dog or cat: Done. I took dinner to my parents last night and spent some time on the couch with their cat.
7. Enjoy the sunshine: Done. The last couple of days have been gloriously sunny.
8. Breathe: I'm working on it -- it's surprising how often I forget to do this.
9. Have a glass of whiskey: Turns out, holiday guests drank all our whiskey so I substituted a stiff martini of my favorite atrisan gin from Dancing Pines Distillery.
10. Sort through things and reorganize: I finally unpacked my suitcase and I'm in the process of cleaning my desk.
11. Send a note of encouragement to someone who needs it: Instead of sending a note, I hand-delivered a pot of homemade soup to my friend who lost her husband.
12. Scratch a dog's ears or cuddle a baby: Done. The friend I took the soup to has a dog and was in charge of her 5-month-old grandson when I arrived.
13. Be patient: This is the most difficult, especially as I see deadline approach and my inbox fill up.
In summary, I think I'm doing pretty well and I look forward to finding focus again.
Nobody mentioned it, but there's nothing like fresh flowers to make one sigh with pleasure--here's the arrangement that a dear friend sent to me: