Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My First Handspun Yarn to Try!

This is so cool! In the mail today we got a package full of lovely delights from my daughter, who remembered us during her trip to Ireland this month! She sent me my first handspun yarn, and how exciting that it's from Ireland. Here it is, with my Enchanted Doll, Yren.

It's labeled "Markree Wensleydales Wool Products 100% Handmade in Ireland." On the back, there is a handwritten notation that says: "Glowing Embers 2010. Long staple, Lamb's Wool. Made by Mary Cooper. 90 grm 96 yards approx.  £18 -- 00."

I just got an email back from Emily, in response to my thank-you note, which gave more information about the yarn:

"The yarn came from the Castle that we stayed in - 

"A husband and wife own the Castle Hotel, and the wife makes the yarn from sheep at the Castle. They are a special breed of sheep that are bred for their long wool. 

"She has an Etsy shop too:  "
And she sent this picture of where the wool was being sold:

So now I have the complete story of my handspun wool!

Color Studies for Knitters

Whenever another "color for knitters" or "color for quilters" book gets published, it's nearly always the same thing: a rudimentary look at the color wheel and the supposed combinations that will produce attractive schemes.

Knowledge of the color wheel is useful enough, but these books never go far enough. First of all they tend to deal strictly with fully saturated colors and maybe a few pastels. Projects based on these will give you flat, coloring-book effects with a rather childish mood.

Second, you can go from cover to cover and never factor in all the colors NOT on the color wheel--browns, greys, blacks, whites, and the whole range of dark and muted colors. 

So instead get your hands on a copy of this book, Color Harmony, or one of its subsequent editions. Yes, you will see a color wheel, and yes it will explain similar, contrasting, and complementary hues--but it goes way, way, WAY beyond that.

Color Harmony teaches you to think of color in a new way. You already know warm and cool colors... Now add some more concepts to that. Think of colors on their own as light, dark, dull, or vivid. (And "dull" here does not mean "boring"--it means "greyed" or "softened.")  When using colors together, identify them by their functions: main color, contrast color, background color.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

A better look at Shaelyn

Yesterday was a knitting marathon! Finished almost two complete repeats on my shawl. Today was church and laundry and housecleaning, so had less knitting time built-into it, but I still finished off the second repeat. Here is what we have at this point:

Notice the ripple effect we have going here. This pattern is actually similar to Feather and Fan (Old Shale), which also creates ripples for the same reason. I don't want to say too much about how that's achieved because I want to respect the designer's intellectual property.  But as I said before, it's an easy pattern to learn and keep track of, and I'd recommend it to anyone who wants either a first-shawl pattern, or one that is good as a take-along project. I'm hoping to finish it soon, even though the next three repeats are going to be much bigger than the first two!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Beginning the Shaelyn Shawl

This is my second cast-on for Leila Raabe's Shaelyn Shawl. The first time, I got through row 15 and had to start over: first, a knot appeared in my yarn (Omega Sinfonia) that I didn't want to deal with; and second, my defective "Make 1 Right" increases were creating big holes. Big holes. If I'd been deep into a perfect piece, then I would have dealt with the knot. (And I would have known how, too, because it's on my Lucy Neatby DVD!)

Before frogging I consulted some resources and practiced making M1 increases correctly. And I had to find my own way on that, because the books and the videos all varied slightly. Done right, the increase feels very snug as I knit into it, and that's the sign that it's not going to make a hole.

So this Shaelyn is looking much tidier and nicer than the first one. The increases are invisible, as they should be, and it's assuming a shawl-like shape even at this early stage. The pattern is very easy to memorize and to read--especially since the designer gives you one whole illustrated page on how to read it.  

Now sometime before the weekend slips away, I need to finish my vanilla sock toes so I can publish a Stage Three Finished Picture of them too!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Finished Object!

One of the very nice things about knitting socks is that you can celebrate finishing them three times! When the knitting is all done is the first stage, next when the kitchener stitching is done to close the toe, and last when the ends are woven in and they're ready to be worn. (A determined knitter could pack in even more Official Observances than just those three, for that matter.)

Oh Frabjous Day, Calloo, Callay! My vanilla socks in Fortissima Socka are Stage-1 Done! Tune in for more chortling when the toes are closed!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Lucy Neatby's Knitting Essentials DVD

From the bits I'd heard of Lucy Neatby on Knitmore Girls, I was figuring her DVDs would be really terrific. She just comes across that way, a knitting master who is gifted to teach. The few youtube videos I saw confirmed it: she demonstrated a provisional cast-on that got me all excited about starting the Shaelyn shawl--at last!

So this is just to say: I get to be right! She really *is* terrific! And I was right about something else too: it was best to start out with volume one. An LYS (which just happened to be the very wonderful Threadbenders in Grand Rapids) had several of her DVDs and I pondered which one to buy. Shouldn't I skip ahead to volume two, on the assumption I already knew the stuff in volume one?

Ooo baby, it's a good thing I didn't! In the first five minutes I learned some extremely useful things I'd never heard of before! Even though you can use the index to skip to a particular topic, I'm enjoying just starting at the beginning and gazing in slack-jawed amazement at what this gal can do! For one thing, I'm going to be binding off the Lucy Neatby way from now on.

Among the topics covered so far have been different cast-ons, different increases and decreases and their effects, how to read your knitting, making yarn butterflies to control strands of yarn, knitting in ends, and much more--and I'm not even half-way through it yet. She even demonstrates how to use a ball winder and swift, knowledge which gives me confidence to buy a set of my own.

And here is another thing I learned: I'm not going to hesitate to purchase any other Lucy Neatby knitting video again. They are available on the web, but you know how that goes--it's hard sometimes to push yourself to order something cold on the web. If my LYS hadn't had it right there on the shelf, where I could pick it up and bond with it, and have the instant gratification of taking it home with me, I probably never would have ordered one. But now, hee hee ho ho, I am over that particular hurdle. Volume two cannot be far in the future.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Reverse of Progress

The Arrowhead lace shawl project is no more: I frogged the entire thing, with no plans right now to start it again. The 33rd row did give me problems--was mysteriously short two stitches, even though I hadn't missed any yarn overs on the row before, that I could see. But the main reason was an unhappy combination of needles, yarn, and maybe pattern too.

I was knitting with size 6's because that was the largest set of Addi Lace needles I have--yet (the day isn't over!). But 7's, as was called for, or even 8's would have been better with the Trekking. So it was coming out way small.  And then there was the fabric it was making: maybe wool sock yarn is okay for that pattern, but maybe something a little drapier would have been better. So I aufed it.

Sometime soon I will cast on that pattern or a similar one. But right now I'm more interested in working on a baby hat I started knitting for Ideal Image's hats for charity project, and also a pair of "Show -Off Socks."  These socks have a very pretty pattern and an entirely different architecture. But since my vanilla socks are still on my sole and only pair of size one circs, I'm experiencing another shopping necessity!