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!