Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Support - What a Concept!

In the past I have tried to avoid posting too much about Ravelry because so many people were still waiting for invites. Every time I log in now there are over 800 people logged in. So moving on. I just read a Ravelry Lace Knitters Group forum thread called "Lace Knitters and The People Who Love Them". It was a great thread full of snippets, stories and links to blog posts about spouses, friends and family who understand the quirkiness that sometimes comes with having a hobby like knitting. Unfortunately I am not one of those lucky people.

I get a lot of comments about having too much yarn, getting too many packages, having a cluttered craft area - you know the drill. I gift items that I loved making, but I never see them worn. I get "requests" for more socks and scarves to keep them warm - should I consider that support by default? No, I don't think so.

I will never forget the photos of Adrienne's scrapping/sewing/knitting area that her wonderful family felt she deserved. I read posts about husbands driving miles, through rain and snow to get that last ball of yarn from the same dye lot so a project could be finished. Posts about a friend waiting on the porch for a package to come, that required a signature of someone over 18. I sigh.

Wouldn't that be nice?? To have someone with that kind of understanding of your passion and enjoyment of a hobby. Ravelry has provided me with a Virtual Community where support, encouragement, enabling, knowledge and resources are abundant. I cannot tell you what that means. To click LOGIN and find immediate acceptance and understanding. This is just knitting and crochet folks, wouldn't it be something if there was this kind of support for all areas of our lives? But hey I'll take it where I can get it. When I first started blogging one year and one month ago I had no readers and no comments. Now there are people all over the world that know what my last pair of completed socks look like. That is amazing (pun intended).

There are also people who want to be written into my will to get my yarn stash, which is definitely beyond my life expectancy :D I don't know how Casey and Jess came up with the concept of Ravelry, but I for one cannot thank them enough. Now I wish my darn t-shirts would come so I can advertise the fact!!!

Peace ~~~

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Shake Shake Shake

We just had a huge earthquake 5.6 I must confess I love them. I am a native San Franciscan and I think of earthquakes as a San Francisco treat, more so than Rice-A-Roni. This is the first one that really shook us up in this house. We don't usually feel them at all. The quake is moving South, and growing in size. Yesterday there was one in Concord, about 20 miles away that was 2.9 on the Richter scale. This one was centered in the South Bay near Alum Rock and it was 5.6 on the Richter scale, and that is more than 65 miles away. Trippy. Well nothing fell over and nothing broke but it was a nice ride. I hope everyone at the epicenter is fine. Ciao for now.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Hogwart's Sock Swap II Package

The final package contains Ravenclaw Stitchmarkers, a Silver Beaded Hermione bottomless bag, several sets of dpns sizes 0-3, the Amazing Goblet of Fire Socks I knit with KnitPicks Palette yarn. I adapted the Maze hat from Knitty into a sock. I will also list the items I included in the first package I sent since my pal never blogged about what she received. A pair of Black Plastic Harry Potter glasses, a back to school package with KnitScene Magazine Fall 2007, a set of Harry Potter themed patterns all copied in color and in plastic sleeves. A pencil case with a calculator, Harry Potter pencil, index cards and index card case all in blue matching the socks. The bookmark with the arrow post it notes to help keep your place in a pattern. The snap together Hogwarts Castle with the Harry Potter figurine. The Time Turner sticker set. I have not received anything in return, but I had a good time putting these packages together.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Little Lacey Bits

I spent most of Saturday with the swift and ball winder. My focus has been on socks for months so all of my lace weight yarns are still in hanks, the exception being the Qiviuk which is sold in center pull balls. Therefore, I had a lot of color, weight and pattern matching selections to make. Then I spent a few hours getting it all wound up. The Good news being - there were no tangles. I am planning on starting with the Zephyr in Admiral Blue for the Mystic Waters Shawl, I am using the Qiviuk for the North Star Scarf. The lacey bits below are Knit Picks projects in Andean Treasure (Fog & Lagoon) and Shadow (Campfire) and my Arctic Lace Swatch 3 in Qiviuk. I am staying away from the silk blends for now. I did not wind any of the cashwool or alpaca either.

Unfortunately progress on lace items is usually invisible. It curls up in a ball and never looks like you have done much. I have determined the number of repeats on these projects that show progress. Five repeats seem to be the magic marker for the 3 Knit Picks projects, that's 20-25 rows of knitting. That will now be my minimum number of rows each time I pick these projects up. I dig this lace knitting. I get bored if I don't feel I am accomplishing something though - which is why I like knitting socks.

Sock knitting is what I consider instant gratification. A completed cuff, heel, toe, gusset or leg is very noticeable. So progress is evident and achieved with 10 or 15 rows of work. I am going to focus on completing the 52 Pair Plunge in November so I can be free for the two Lace KALs starting in January 2008.

I am putting my Vest and Jacket into hibernation on Ravelry. The vest is an optional layer, I just really liked the bookworm look of it. I have replaced the kenobi jacket in the wardrobe with a nice cashmere cardigan from Spiegel's. I will get back to them in the Spring. I believe I have enough to be getting on with for now.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Arctic Lace

Arctic Lace by Donna Druchunas

Lesson 1 Swatch 1 in Worsted Weight

Lesson 2 Swatch 2 in Fingering Weight

Lesson 3 Swatch 3 in Qiviuk (Qiviut blend)

(no photo yet)

I have gotten so much out of going through these lessons. In my first swatch you can see the green yarn I used as a stitchmarker. What a brilliant technique, the yarn runs down your work so you can easily see when you go astray. There is no fumbling with getting the needle tip into a stitchmarker without popping it off the sharp tip of a lace needle. Very cool!! I have lost way too many of those little buggers, and I am quite fond of my Entrelac lace stitchmarkers and I don't want to lose any more of them.

The other thing I immediately latched onto which has changed my knitting life is the number of plain stitches written into the charts in bold. That is one of the things I hated most about working with charts, counting the empty boxes - knit stitcthes - between the "pattern" stitches. Such a simple solution, one of those duhs!!!, "why didn't that occur to me?" techniques. Love it, now I can fly through a chart. Yay.

The last thing I discovered is that the color of Qiviuk I chose is very difficult to see at night. No tinking can be done through the week, if I need to frog any errors it can only be done on the weekends when I have daylight streaming through the window. Also, I don't know what I am going to use for a lifeline. The cotton yarn I usually use for a lifeline is thicker than the qiviuk and I had trouble threading it through the stitches on the needles. I was going to use my Harmony needles, but my Addi Turbo Lace Needles came. I did my swatch with them and they work wonderfully with the qiviuk. I joined the Arctic Lace Ravelry and Yahoo groups so I can read other's experiences with this wonderful book and yarn. I will be knitting the North Star Scarf. Not too many people using the qiviut, but Donna is in the Yahoo Group (still waiting for her Ravelry invite) so I am sure if I run into any problems she can help me out. So far working with the muskox yarn has not been any different than working with 100% cashmere or superfine silk blend yarns. It knits up beautifully. Don't worry, this will not become a new "favorite" yarn, this is a very special splurge scarf I am making to replace my cashmere scarf I felted - ouch, it still hurts.

Conversations With Adrienne

Oooh Adrienne has a new podcast. It is called Conversations With Adrienne and is all about photography, scrapbooking, sewing and knitting. You can subscribe to the podcast at and her video casts are not to be missed either, they can be viewed at . I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. Her interview in Episode one is with Lisa Sandford the author of Ethnic Scrapbooking. Although I don't scrapbook, I got some ideas for some dropstitch knitting with a Henna tattoo look. One of my favorite things. If you have listened to any of Adrienne's previous casts you know she gets interviews with some of the most popular, interesting and talented authors, photographers and fashionistas of the day. So go check her out.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


This Yarngasm was brought to me by Claudia at Wollmeise and Sherri at The Loopy Ewe; and my mail carrier with the exotic Mexican accent who is a knitter but she is afraid to try socks. I will have to knit-nap her one day and teach her to knit a sock.

Click photo for a larger view.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Half Way Home

Pair 26 of 52 and one more Holiday Pair of Socks. These are knit in Hill Country Yarn Candycane color way on size 3 KP Harmony Needles. I made them extra long for cold winter nights. Two of my fellow plungers have completed all 52 pairs of their socks - amazing.


Lace Weight Wollmeise

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Extremely Educational!!

Knit and Crochet Fall 2007 TKGA National Conference/CGOA Regional Conference Courses

Well I have gone through all of my class materials and I can say that I learned something in each and every one of the classes I took. I took away lots of excellent handouts and some nice free patterns.


Design 1A Just Rectangles Paper Doll
Design Series for Knit and Crochet
Instructor: Nancy Nehring
Nancy Nehring is amazing. She has researched and written about the history of lace and she uses authentic vintage threads; and her lace buttons are beautiful. But this class is the first in a series of knit and crochet design classes. The design series starts with the basics of making garments with 1 -3 rectangles and ends with the final design stage of shaping the rectangles for fitted garments. This class was so much fun. The design elements are presented as clothing for a paper doll - remember those? As you go through each sample pattern you learn where and how to join the rectangles, as well as the importance of color and texture of the rectangles. Nancy passes around samples that are actual clothes knitted for an 18" doll. Those alone were worth the price of admission, we are talking about a museum quality wardrobe for a doll. It was great. I would have loved to have the fleece jacket in royal blue with the embroidered seams and pockets!! Wow. The techniques I learned in this class will enable me to make a basic vest, jacket, sweater, coat, or skirt. I will definitely be signing up for the next design class in the series at the next conference. My only regret, I did not take my Knitting Lace with Mary Schiffman book for Nancy to sign. She very graciously signed books for my classmates. Free pattern we received: Dreamy Ripple Crochet Afghan LT1528 designed by Nancy Nehring in TLC Essentials and Moda Dea Dream. It is really pretty, I will probably make one of these, it is my favorite kind of crochet pattern.


Crochet Lite
Instructor: Karen Klemp
Crochet Lite was all about the fabric. Our homework was to crochet a gauge swatch in the suggested yarn getting the suggested gauge. Then to crochet a second gauge swatch using the same crochet hook but with yarn at least two weights lighter than the yarn called for in the pattern. My swatches were almost the same size which means I could crochet my sweater without altering the pattern. Not so for many of my classmates. There were some huge differences in some of their swatches which meant major modifications to the pattern numbers. Karen walked us through the math and she also had us chart our patterns so we could see what the fabric should look like as we crocheted. Very handy tool. My fabric in the fingering weight yarn was so much drappier and light than the worsted weight the pattern called for. I will experiment with much lighter yarn for crochet garments from now on. I have made two crocheted sweaters which I never wear because they are so HEAVY. Post stitches are used to make the crochet look like knitting and that calls for a ton of yarn and results in a garment weighing a ton. I wish I had used fingering weight or even lace weight doubled for those sweaters. Live and learn. The sample sweaters Karen passed around the class were gorgeous. There was one she did in a silk blend that I have in a pattern book, and I did not even recognize it because it looks so different in something other than worsted weight. The stitch definition was amazing. I have chosen that as my first experiment in crocheting a sweater in a class 1 or class 2 yarn. Many of the other samples were knit in alpaca, and surprisingly the patterns were knit with about half the yardage called for in worsted weight. That was an eye opener. Finer yarn may be pricier, but if you need only half as much, it all balances out. Pretty cool. (Hence all the alpaca in my fiber finds post :P)

Crochet Illusions
Instructor: Darla J. Fanton
This class is all about magic. You crochet in a sport weight or a lighter weight yarn and magically you end up with two distinct results. A striped fabric and a pictorial fabric. There is a very simple trick to it, which I am so glad I learned. I will definitely be using this method in future projects. The heart we made in class will be making an appearance in the crochet square afghan project I am working on. We received a free pattern of a very cute potholder with the Apple Illusion. Darla has many published patterns and booklets, I grabbed one of her catalogs so I can order a couple. Darla was kind enough to pose for a picture for my blog (see below).


Crochet to Fit and Flatter the Queen Sized
Instructor: Joan A. Davis
This was a thinking class. Joan focuses on the planning and practicality of your plus sized designs and garments. Of course measurements and gauge are key elements, but we also learned what has been making commercial patterns look so awful on queen sized women. How commercial pattern discrepancies can be corrected and can be easily converted to beautiful queen sized clothes. Yes - there is math involved, and metrics no less. But there are several knitting software programs available to help with that. Joan gave us the pluses and minuses of three different software products. One was available in the market place and was very impressive, Knitware. We each drew schematics for our first sweater designs. Very interesting.

The Savvy Single Crochet
Instructor: Karen Ratto-Whooley
Oh my goodness, I never knew crochet could produce such stunning fabric. Karen taught us some very simple single crochet stitches that turn out very unique and lovely crocheted fabric. I plan on making entire garments with these stitches. The stitches work up very quickly - provided you are working with a crochet hook with a pointed head. Our course materials include some really nice patterns for a Handbag, and Ripple Afghan. There are more pattern booklets available on her site. formerly

An Introduction to Tunisian Crochet
Instructor: Darla J. Fanton
Another great fabric find. I did not even know there was a knit or crochet stitch in Tunisian Crochet. About 400 years ago I bought the Easy Tunisian Crochet set from Annie's Attic and tried to teach myself Tunisian Crochet. The first thing I learned in Darla's class was that I was putting my hook in the wrong bar. That is why my fabric never looked like the picture in the booklet. I also learned how to cross stitch on the fabric - fabulous. I love cross stitching, I have a cross stitched afghan in my future for sure!! Next conference I must take Darla's double hook crochet class. I have that set too from Annie's, but have not mastered the technique.

Tips & Techniques for The Perfectionist Knitter
Instructor: Sarah Peasley
This was one of those classes crammed so full of good ideas I could not take notes fast enough. You know how when you get a bunch of knitters together and we are all talking at once? It was like that, all someone had to do was throw out a problem they are having and we were all on it like sharks on chum - with our helpful advice. The cast ons and cast offs I learned were worth the price of admission. Because Sarah did not just teach us how to do it she explained why each behaves the way it does and why one is better for one garment over another. Sure there are books that have some of these "purls" of wisdom, but getting hands on instruction while it is being explained was great. Yes - you should wash and block, and even hang your gauge swatch. If I had only known - my Mom's cotton ribbed cardigan would not be a full size too big for her now!!!! I won't tell any more, but I will try to give Sarah credit in future blog posts when I am making garments that her advice has made easier for me.

Introduction to Hairpin Lace
Instructor: Jennifer Hansen
Last but surely not least. First I must say that the hairpin lace wood and copper loom that is available from the Stitch Diva Studios is far superior to my Susan Bates plastic and metal loom. That said, I probably won't ever really get into hairpin lace as a crochet technique. It is a little too fussy for my taste. Also, it is awkward for traveling projects because of the loom flipping that is required. The finished garments are so pretty which is why I took this class. But I am afraid I will have to be a consumer and buy mine. Joining hairpin lace strips is not my idea of a good time. My classmate sitting next to me made four strips and joined them and had what could have been the back of a tank top, sweater or vest during a three hour class. So obviously the class was serving her purposes, for me - not so much. I am glad I learned how though in case I ever get bored with knitting and crocheting in the multitude of techniques learned above.

And now a few pictures, click to enlarge photos. The first one is Darla Fanton from our Crochet Illusion Class. My heart came out great. Darla is followed by some fashion show photos. All of the (few) fashion show photos can be viewed in my Flickr gallery in the side bar. Some of the more famous models include Carol Ventura (Tapestry Crochet), the Editor of Vogue Knitting Magazine, Doris Chan (Crocheted Lace & Everyday Crochet), the fourth model in is wearing a Fair Isle Sweater which earned her the Master Knitter Level 3 pin at this year's conference. The MCs for the fashion show were Laura Bryant and Nancie Wiseman. It always amazes me to be among such well established and talented Instructors, Authors, Designers, Publishers and Editors. These are the people driving the yarn, knitting and crochet industry. They meet us, teach us and listen to us. If you are not a member, consider joining TKGA and or CGOA . You can influence future fashion and get your desires heard and possibly met for your knitting and crochet passions. If you are already a member and you are on Ravelry please join the groups I started for TKGA and CGOA and see what other members thought of the conferences and what projects and designs they are working on.


Friday, October 05, 2007

A Gift From Amy

Amy surprised me at lunch with this wonderful felted bowl and two skeins of Knit Picks Felici Arugula. The card is the cutest thing ever!

Final Market Finds

A wee bit of Jewelry from Harlan Beads

Button Stash Enhancement