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.

Friday, July 27, 2012

StevenBe's and A Fairly Productive Week!

It's hard to believe a week has past since my last post and for the most part, it has been a fairly productive one. Not only have I finished a few things on my needles but I've managed to get my class list in order for StevenBe's. I must say that they are going to keep me very busy over the next several months. Some of the things I'll be teaching are a Striped Baby Hat, Socks on 2 Circular Needles (using worsted weight yarn),The Landscape Shawl, Cabled Mittens, Norwegian Mittens, Sweaters, a Gauge Workshop and much more.

In addition to my classes, StevenBe's offers a wide variety of classes and workshops that cover all aspects of fiber craft as well as keeping their clientele current on trends within the industry. Although they are masters in this area, it is the manner in which they treat their customers that gives them the edge in the marketplace. Regardless of the knitter's experience level, everyone is treated with a great deal of patience but more importantly, encouraged to go beyond their comfort zone and supporting them along the way. It's a wonderful knitting community and I strongly encourage you to pay them a visit....Maybe I'll see you there!

I would like to share something very special that was made by my friend, Diane. She's a beautiful knitter (she doesn't think so but I know differently) and has been with my Tuesday group for a long time. Among other things, Diane enjoys a challenge and loves to knit "critters" so I wasn't surprised when she brought "Owliver" to knit group the other night. If any of you are interested in knitting one for yourself, you can download it for free on Ravelry. It's called Whit's Knits: Big Snowy Owl but I think Diane's name for it is more appropriate, don't you?

Finally, I want to share the finished Very Braidy Cowl that I previewed last week. If you remember, I used a glorious Bison Down/Merino Blend yarn. It will reside at StevenBe's as of tomorrow so please stop by and check it out.

I used leftover Fantasy Naturale to do a waste yarn seam.

To do the seam, I folded the waste yarn pieces inward and secured them with seam clips.

Just as I demonstrated on my Faux Kitchener video, I began joining the pieces together. Always making sure to go under a whole stitch on the upper piece (point down).

And going under a half of one stitch and half of it's neighboring stitch (point up) on the lower piece.

Once the sewing is complete, carefully unravel the waste yarn and watch your perfect seam magically appear.

Finally, I treated the cowl to a luxurious bath in my favorite Soak and set it out to dry. Although it's not completely dry, it already feels like butter! FYI, the side with the seam is facing up in the picture to prove a point that if done correctly, the Faux Kitchener is as invisible as it's counterpart. It really is a great alternative for seams that may be a bit too long for the true Kitchener Graft or for those knitters too nervous to tackle it.

That pretty much concludes my week. I'll be back next week with more adventures and I wish you  well with yours!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Beads, Buffalo, Beetles and A Blessing!

You may ask what these things have in common and the answer is simple: absolutely nothing. However they do offer a brief description of my week.

Last week I shared all my dilemmas with my readers and fortunately they have since been resolved.

I will begin with the destroyer of my garden - The Japanese Beetle! Turns out that these little guys are having a great summer due to our mild winter and early spring. The good news is that they can be controlled but the bad news is that the insecticide that works the best also kills bees. Obviously, I will choose an organic method as I don't want to harm the bees - they are already struggling for survival.

The blessing came in the form of a kind repairman who came out on Monday and perfumed CPR on my ailing washer. It was the highlight of my day!

Beads and bracelets have become my knitting girls favorite pastime. In fact, they are knitting them faster than I can put them together! Here are some of their latest designs:

Madeline made this one out of red and orange beads.

Elena shared her design.

And Erica showed off hers.

Finally, I will share my Buffalo story. Last week, Steven Berg of StevenBe gave me a gorgeous hank of Buffalo Down and Merino Wool. For lack of a better word I have to say that it is fabulous! Although I've knit with luxury fibers before, this is one my favorites. Buffalo is a bit pricey but what most knitters do not realize is that it's a resilient fiber that stands the test of time. It's great for cowls, hats and mittens.

I found the perfect pattern for it on Ravelry called "A Very Braidy Cowl" and I'm having a lot of fun knitting it!

Are you wondering what the green yarn is for? As you know, there are many methods one can use to graft 2 pieces together. The method I am using on my cowl is done with waste yarn (I'm using leftover Fantasy Naturale). Once I've completed it, I won't bind off. Instead, I'll knit another few inches with waste yarn just as I did on the other side. I'll use the Faux Kitchener Graft and then unravel the waste yarn when I'm done. The seam will be flawless and I won't need to go back and adjust the stitches like you do with traditional Kitchener Graft.

For a video tutorial on how to do the Faux Kitchener Graft, click below.

Well, that pretty much wraps up my adventurous week...I wish you well with your knitting adventures!

Friday, July 13, 2012

When life gets in the way of your knitting!

It's definitely been one of those days, you know the kind I'm talking about. You've got it all planned, you'll start out early and get the "have to" chores done. Next, you'll prepare a perfect cup of your favorite tea and then spend the rest of the day bonding with your yarn and knitting needles. Maybe it's something new you've been dying to make or you've had a stroke of ambition (or guilt) and decided to finish up those "pending" projects. Sounds perfect, right? That's what I thought but then life got in the way of my knitting......

It started with a walk outside and realizing that my beautiful hosta's ended up being the main course for bunch of deer. Next, you walk down to your flower garden and for a moment feel a sense of joy because the red salvia are still there. This means neither deer nor rabbit have had them for dinner but then you get a little closer and realize that although the blooms are intact, the leaves have been shredded by an unidentified bug! Now I have to go to the garden store and figure out what to do about this. After all, it's only July and I'm not yet ready to surrender my garden.

But here is the real kicker. I spent most of the afternoon siphoning water out of my wash machine with a turkey baster! And trust me, this is not a quick process. You see, my washing machine has broke down again for the second time this year. Surely I couldn't leave the clothes sit in the water until it's repaired and my fear of water leaking on my floor was enough incentive for me to empty the water. Fortunately, my friend and neighbor Lisa has offered me the use of her wash machine. Good thing or I'd be forced to bring out the washboard!

It's 6:00 PM and I've yet to knit a single stitch and alas, life has once again gotten in the way of my knitting.

Now that I vented, I want to share something a little more positive. Yesterday my girls and I went to Beadbury. It's a nice shop in Osseo with beautiful beads and exceptional customer service.  With the help of the sales clerk, the girls made some great selections.

Here are some of their works of art:

Madeline has one on her wrist and one on the needle.

Elena went with lilac with black and clear beads.

The two Katies went with green, yellow, and black.

Erica went with green, while Becca went with blue.

Becca also brought her three new friends.

For now, my knitting adventures will continue at their own pace. I wish you luck with yours.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Bunnies that won't eat your garden!

Happy 4th of July to all my knitting friends. I hope you were all able to enjoy some outdoor festivities without "melting" in this excessive heat.

I wanted to share my latest project and it is probably one of the cutest things I've ever made. What's even better is that I already had the necessary yarn in my stash...How often does that happen?

A while back I bought a book from Amazon called Knits to Give by Debbie Bliss. It's filled with delightful patterns but I must confess that the biggest reason I bought the book was to obtain the pattern for the Bunny Baby Booties. All I had to do was wait for someone that I knew to have a baby.

The booties were worked on straight size 3 needles using Debbie Bliss baby cashmerino. Two colors are needed so I used 1 skein of light blue (color #340045) and 1 skein of off white (color #340101). You'll need about a yard of brown yarn, preferably in a slightly heavier weight for embroidering the eyes, nose and mouth. I had some leftover Frogtree sport weight alpaca and it worked great.

For the most part the pattern was very simple and straight forward however, there is a section that proved to be a bit tedious.

The section I'm referring to occurs near the end of the pattern just before the sole shaping. I've included a picture to help illustrate what I'm talking about but basically what you're doing is picking up the purl bumps 7 rows above the working stitches that are on your needle (I found using a smaller needle worked well for this). Once those stitches are picked up, the pattern will ask you to purl those stitches together with the ones on your working needle. This is what creates the roll above the sole.

All and all the booties were fun to knit and I can't wait to see them on the baby! There wasn't a pattern available for a matching hat so I think I'll have to tap into my creative side and figure something out.

I have a busy week ahead of me. Hopefully I'll find some time to start something new from my stash ....I'm thinking a cowl but I never really know what I'll pull out....Trust me, I have a lot of yarn to choose from.

Next Thursday I have class with my knitting girls and we should be able to finish up our bracelets. I'll post the pictures of their completed works of art as soon as I can.

If you haven't already done so, check out the video section on my website. I uploaded 17 new videos this past week and hopefully you'll find them useful.

My classes at StevenBe's have been going great! Next Wednesday (July 11th) I'll be teaching a 3 hour blocking and seaming class from 4:00 to 7:00. Beginning Saturday (July 14th), I'll once again teach the 3 session Beyond the Basics Shawlette.

I'll be back next week with more knitting adventures!