Saturday, March 2, 2013

Bringing you up to date!

As usual, time has slipped by me and I've been a bit negligent with my blog. My teaching schedule at StevenBe's and now the Yarn Garage have taken a big chunk out of my spare time. I'm certainly not complaining, far from it....I feel very blessed that my classes are so popular. You'll see, one of these days I'll get my act together and actually get my blog done on a more regular basis!

I would like to share something with all of you that I think you'll find really interesting. In a recent class that I had taught at StevenBe's, one of my students brought in some knitting that belonged to her partner's grandmother. At first glance I wasn't sure what I was looking at - in part because it was in such good condition but once I learned what it was, I asked Pat for her permission to put it on my blog.

What you're looking at is a bandage that was being knit on size 0 needles by the late Edna Harris from Bluffton, Indiana. Here is the shocker; it's from World War I! In those days, there weren't drug stores on every corner that supplied such things. Instead, the Red Cross had to rely on thoughtful women such as Edna to make bandages for our soldiers.

On to my knitting girls and what they are up to. Not sure if I mentioned it but I bought them all a copy of Susan B. Anderson's Spud & Chloe on the farm for Christmas. We all chose a critter and now we're busy knitting the farm....Literally!  I'll keep you posted with our progress.

Last but not least I want to share some of my upcoming projects and the yarns I'll be using for them.

As you can see, I'm a huge fan of Madelinetosh Vintage. The yarn to the left is called Cherry and it will become another Creedence Shawl. The Madelinetosh on the right is the very popular color way called Tart. The picture doesn't really do it justice but it's a red with a hint of black throughout. This will be used for my Creature Comfort Sweater...Which by the way will be a class this fall at StevenBe's! Last but not least is my lace weight Shalimar yarn. The fiber content is merino, silk and cashmere and as you can see, I'm already doing my gauge swatch. This will become a shawl that was created by my favorite designer, Corrina Ferguson. I'll share my progress in upcoming blogs.

Well, I'm off on my knitting adventures and I wish you well with yours!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Short Rows!

Where has the year gone? I say it every year but it seems that the older I get, the faster it goes by. Hopefully, all of my readers enjoyed a wonderful holiday with friends and family and are ready to get to work on all the resolutions they made on January 1st. No doubt that "more knitting" is at the very top of everyone's list as it certainly is on mine!

Besides the obvious ones of not starting a new project before completing what's already on the needles, I decided, thanks to my daughter Katie, to use my time more wisely. As a Christmas gift, she thoughtfully purchased a planner for me and guarantees that organizing my life will be a snap because of it. Well, that remains to be seen but I'm definitely willing to give it a whirl.

Which brings me to my blog. In addition to sharing pictures and stories from my knitting groups and classes, I will begin addressing technical issues that plaque many knitters.

That being said, I want to discuss "short rows". Short rows are exactly that, short rows. There are several reasons for using short rows and there are many different ways of performing them. The most common way is the wrap and turn method. Unfortunately, there is a great deal of confusion when working short rows on garter stitch pieces.

I have been approached several times by knitters that are displeased with the end result of what they believed or were told was the correct treatment of the wraps when garter stitch is involved. The problem is that they treated the wraps in the same fashion as stockinette and reverse stockinette.

This is what I wish to clarify; when working short rows on garter stitch pieces, you perform it, then ignore it! What that means is that you will go through the process of wrapping and turning, but when you come back to it, you ignore the wrap. Why? Because the wrap maintains the continuity of the appearance of garter stitch!

So now you know....Don't knit the wraps on garter stitch. If a pattern suggests you do this, I would seriously question the reason behind it. It may be because some people believe knitting the wraps closes a "hole" created by the short row, however, this is not the case. Knitting and purling the wraps is done strictly for cosmetic reasons.

In case you are not familiar with wrap and turn short rows or just need a refresher, I've included my YouTube video on the subject.

Finally, I would like to share a picture of the newest member of our family, Chester.  He is a 3 month old Netherlands Dwarf rabbit and is an absolute sweetheart!

Next blog, I will be addressing what many knitters' feel is a nasty subject - GAUGE!!!

That's all for now and I wish you good luck with your knitting adventures.

Until next time!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Long Time, No Blog!

Yes, it has been quite some time since I wrote my last blog but I assure you that wasn't my intention.

As always, I tend to get busy with everything else and my blog seems to get placed on the back burner. I think I need to be more disciplined and set aside a scheduled time to work on my blog! Sounds like a good plan, doesn't it?

On another subject, I thought I would share a picture of my great niece, Hailey, wearing a sweater I had knit for her over a year ago. She has finally grown into it and I think she looks fabulous!

My classes at StevenBe's have been going great. Beginning in November, I'll be teaching The Cowboy Cowl and Thrum Mittens.

My private classes continue and I'm both proud and amazed at the many things my students create. It is especially satisfying since I taught the majority of them to knit. It wasn't very long ago that they were struggling just to make a purl stitch and now they're creating beautiful works of art. Everything from vests, sweaters, Christmas stockings and blankets have graced their needles and I would like to share some of them now.

Barb's vest and Diane's sweater were both made out of Malabrigo Rios.

Here are some photos of Anna and Gail's masterpieces.

No, Anna didn't goof up on her gauge swatch, she made this sweater for her dad.

Gail is sporting her StevenBe creation.

My Monday night group will not be out done......Kathy made this beautiful shawl and baby sweater and Patty continues to work on her StevenBe Ponchini.

Diane is our wrister knitter as well as baby hats for her grandkids. Beth on the other hand loves to knit hats, wristers and baby items for her friends.

My next blog will include more pictures from my many students.

Wishing you all great success with your knitting adventures as I will no doubt, continue with mine!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Very Busy Month at StevenBe's!

Yes, I'm still here and finally writing my blog. My reason for not writing as of late is a good one; filming technique videos. We've recently uploaded 19 new videos onto YouTube for a grand total of 66! You can view them on either my website under videos or go directly toYouTube and type in Wynnknit.

Still, this doesn't explain everything else I've been up to. Teaching has been taking up a good part of my day and my classes continue to fill at StevenBe's. In fact, I've just posted my upcoming class schedule on my homepage - check it out.  It's been busy but I'm not complaining, still wish someone would invent a way for us to live with a lot less sleep....Imagine what we could accomplish with those extra 8 hours.

I've also been busy writing patterns. Within the week you will be able to purchase my Buffalo Girls (and boys) Cowl, Striped Top Knot Baby Hat and the Fun and Furry Cabled Mittens at StevenBe's.
None of this would have been possible had it not been for my dear friend, Anna Hartsel, who worked overtime testing my patterns. Thank you Anna!

My knitting students have been very busy and continue to impress me but first I would like to update you on what's new at StevenBe's.

Besides the Yarn Harlot, Stephanie Pearl McPhee paying a visit on September 27th, it is again time for the StevenBe 3rd Annual Fabulous Fashion Show.

This Steven version of Project Runway will allow all of us knitters to submit up to 3 garments to be modeled by professionals in a juried fashion show on October 6th, @ 6:00 PM at the Pillsbury Theatre (3501 Chicago Ave.). If you are interested in either attending and/or sharing your favorite knitted garment, please submit them to StevenBe's no later than October 1st. Tickets for this event are still available but are selling quickly....Don't miss this exciting opportunity! Proceeds from the show support the StevenBe Creative Community Foundation so it's not only fun but it's for a good cause as well.

For most knitters, the best time of year is fall because that is when the most glorious wools arrive on the shelves of your favorite yarn shop.

Last Saturday, a box of 3 Irish Girls arrived at StevenBe's and I was there for the debut. One word to describe the contents of this box is yummy!

This beautiful yarn shown below by Zen Yarn Garden was custom dyed for StevenBe and is called Windy City. The name is in reference to Vogue Knitting Live Chicago which is taking place at the end of October. I believe a shawl sample is in the works out of this breathtaking yarn. Supplies are limited.

I've had a lot of classes wrap up this past month and I always try to take pictures of their finished pieces. You won't have to look too closely to see the pride in their eyes............

Now it's time for me to get back to work and get some knitting done. My next blog will feature some works done by my private knitting groups.

Good luck with your knitting adventures!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Rethinking How To Do Gauge!

It's been a few weeks since I've done my blog and it certainly wasn't intentional. As usual the craziness of my day to day life got out of hand and alas, it kept me from both my knitting and my blog.....

My classes at StevenBe's have been a huge hit and I seem to be spending more and more time there. That's not a bad thing but I will need to exercise a great deal of self control when all the fall yarns finally arrive. As you all know by now, my yarn stash is already bursting at the seams and the last thing I need is more. That being said, it's never stopped me before.

As I mentioned before, my classes have been going great but one in particular seems to be especially popular. The class I'm referring to is gauge.

We've all heard it before that gauge is the single most important part of knitting. Yet this is the one step that most knitters continue to ignore time and time again. I think one reason for this is that many knitters don't really understand how to do a gauge swatch and more importantly, fail to translate the information it provides into their actual knitting project.

Another reason knitters may forego the gauge swatch is that they feel the end result proves to be inaccurate. In other words, the garment does not fit even though the gauge swatch said it would.

In my many years of teaching, I have found that making the standard size gauge swatch is inadequate in determining what ones' true gauge is. This is because a knitter tends to "behave themselves" when knitting a 4 x 4 inch gauge swatch. What I mean by that is the knitter wants to get done and on with their intended project so they are extra careful and try to knit to the specified gauge the pattern is calling for. I call this "best behavior knitting".

To avoid falling into this trap, knitters should always make a swatch that is at least 6 x 6 inches. Some experts feel that a proper gauge swatch should be no less than 20% of the widest circumference of a garment. Why? Because the larger the sample means the knitter is more likely to fall into their natural rhythm.

The other pitfall that I see on a regular basis are knitters who don't block their swatches before taking measurements. Fibers change when they are blocked, sometimes significantly. Look at the samples below and you'll see what I mean. All of these samples were knit with the same amount of stitches and rows on the same size needle. Notice how much wider and relaxed the processed swatches are. Can you imagine how much impact this would have your finished sweater? Even if you choose to dry clean your sweaters rather than wash, the fibers will eventually break down.

Hopefully this helps those knitters that have had problems with gauge in the past. If you still have questions, get in touch with me and I'll be happy to help.

Finally, I want to share my beautiful hanging basket that is in it's absolute glory this year. So much so that I've decided to bring it indoors this fall and attempt to keep it alive until spring. It's a Wandering Jew and I would welcome any care tips my readers might want to share.

That is a rap on my knitting adventures and as always, I wish you well with yours!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Fall Fiber Frenzy at StevenBe's!

Hello to all my knitting friends. It's been one of those crazy, busy weeks which is why I'm a day late writing my blog. Oh well, as the saying goes, better late than never. I have a lot of things to cover so I'll get right to the point.

With the days growing shorter, I thought my readers would be interested in some of the fall yarns that are popping up at StevenBe's. Like my title says, it really is a fiber frenzy there with every color, weight and texture you can imagine. There are tons of patterns to support the yarns as well. I couldn't help but notice the many fiber blends available. This is so important for washability and wearability and I like the fact that we no longer have to go from 100% cotton to 100% wool. The new blends make it possible for knitters to create garments that can easily take you from one season to the next.

One example of this is Habu silk (or wool) and stainless steel - that's right, stainless steel. It can be knit alone, doubled, tripled or carried with another fiber....totally up to you! If you look at the picture below, you'll see the vibrant color ways available.

Another thing I've notice is that we are getting away from the drab. Remember when you could only wear light colors in the spring and summer and dark colors in fall and winter? That isn't the case anymore. We're seeing bright and beautiful colors year round. Just look at some of the fabulous colors shown below!

Shawls of all shapes and sizes is another trend that I'm seeing. They've been popular for sometime but nothing like this. I think one reason is that there are so many shawl patterns out there that offer versatility. Like StevenBe's Ponchini, the shawls can be worn several ways. Of course, cowls continue to be a big hit as well.

Lace, cables and textured patterns continue to be strong. The wristers shown below from Blue Sky Alpaca features a gentle lace pattern reminiscent of another place in time. Even the pattern book reminds me of something one would see in the late 1940's and 1950's.

Finally, lots and lots of bags. After all, a knitter can never have too many knitting bags, right?

Honestly, my pictures don't do the yarns and accessories justice. Stop by and give them a hug and a squeeze and you'll see what I mean.

And last but not least, my neighbor and dear friend, Lisa has a beautiful garden. She has carefully timed her plantings so that there is never a time when a new and unique bloom is not gracing her landscape.
What she showed me the other day was nothing short of breathtaking. You see, after 3 years of waiting patiently, her glorious perennial Hibiscus made their debut. That's not to say in the past they didn't  bloom but it was this year for the first time that they shared their incredible flower. I believe her hummingbirds thought they had died and gone straight to heaven when their beaks met up with the mammoth blooms. Enjoy.

That's all I have for now. I'm once again off to more knitting adventures.....good luck with yours!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Starting to think about Fall!

Where is summer going? It's so hard to believe that August is already here and school will be starting soon. I mentioned that very thing to my knitting girls the other day and they were quick to point out that they didn't need or want any reminders on that subject.

Fall is my favorite time of year. The colors are spectacular and I love the smell of the crisp night air.  Of course, the transition between crisp and down right freezing often comes to quickly for my liking but that's life in Minnesota. It is after all, the theater of seasons, I just don't always care for the fourth act.

The Fall is also the beginning of the sweater season and for knitters, it's another excuse to visit your favorite yarn shop to see and feel all the new wools that are being introduced. The other day when I met with Jeremy at StevenBe's, he told me that I won't be disappointed when I see all the fabulous fibers that will soon be filling their shelves. No doubt I will be there to give them all a softness test!

Speaking of softness, I want to share with all of you the mitten I designed for a class that I'll be teaching at StevenBe's beginning September 19th. I used Cascade "Cloud"and Prism "Plume"for my creation.  I think it turned out pretty neat, don't you?

I also want to share photos I had taken last Saturday at my Beyond the Basics Shawlette class. My students were very proud (as they should be) of their beautiful creations and I was equally proud of them.

One other thing I would like to share is a link for a charity that needs our help. We all know that there are numerous charities out there but this one in particular caught my eye. It's for Joey Bags! Apparently several wombats and kangaroos are being killed by cars on Australian highways and although the mother's don't survive, their joey's usually do. The shelters are now being over run with orphaned joeys and that's where we come in.....Knitting pouch bags for joeys. It's perfect because most of us have so much extra wool from past projects and what better way to put it to good use. Anyway, here is the link if you're interested in contributing - CHARITY CRAFTS PLACE: JOEY BAGS.

I'm off to more knitting adventures. As always, I wish you well with your knitting adventures. I'll be back next week.