Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Turn, turn, turn (A guest blogger!)

Many of you remember India, who worked in our shop for years... She has gone back to her editing gig, which means she can work at home, but she still teaches classes for us here at the shop. She thought she'd share a little about her upcoming fall classes, so here goes!

"…To everything there is a season, and although it’s still summer (you’d never know it today, though; it’s about 62 degrees outside and I am wrapped in a wool shawl) I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about the coming cold weather. Partly that’s because of our unseasonably cool and wet summer, and partly it’s because I’m still reeling from paying for our winter heat pre-buy—OUCH!! So coming up with alternative ways of keeping warm in the coming months has been very much on my mind.

Of course, knitting has always been about keeping warm. Sweaters, hats, socks, scarves, mittens, shawls, afghans… all wonderful winter warmers. But I’m guessing that I won’t be the only one turning the thermostat a few degrees cooler this year, and so I’ve been concentrating on ways to keep warm inside. I think I’ve come up with a few great ideas, and I hope to share them with some of you in the knitting classes I’ll be teaching at Kaleidoscope Yarns this fall. I spend a great deal of my time sitting at my computer, and my home office is chilly. So when I get dressed in the morning, one of the first things I put on is soft wool handknitted socks. I’ve been teaching the basic fingering weight socks class at Kaleidoscope Yarns for years now, but this time around, we’ll do it in sport weight, using the same great Yankee Knitter Classic Socks pattern and KnitCol yarn from Adriafil. This yarn is almost too much fun—the colors are fantastic and knit up into wonderful, whimisical stripes. And sport weight yarn works on bigger needles (size 3 or 4 rather than 1 or 2) and knits up quickly, so if you want to learn to knit socks but you’ve been afraid of tiny needles and skinny yarn, this class is for you!

If you’ve got basic socks down, the Lupine Lace Socks workshop may be just the thing to kick your sock knitting up a notch. Who says you can’t be warm and elegant at the same time? Because that’s what these socks are. Fingering weight yarn and a delicate lace stitch complement the basic sock construction. There’s a sample of these socks in the shop worked in a pretty solid lavender, but I took a bit of a risk and knit these using Cascade Heritage Paint sock yarn in a subtle multicolor of blues, purples, greens, and browns. Sometimes a multicolor yarn and a lace pattern just don’t mix—it can end up looking too busy while obscuring the stitch pattern. But I was thrilled—thrilled!—with these socks. I’m really looking forward to wearing these with my clogs this fall and winter.

Of course, it’s not just my feet that get cold. My hands get pretty chilly, too, but I can’t type with gloves on. I came up with this design for slip stitch mosaic fingerless mitts because I wanted something colorful but not too bulky. Slip stitch colorwork is the cheater’s Fair Isle: unlike traditional stranded knitting, you only work one color at a time. However, some stiches are slipped, rather than worked, which pulls the color up from one row into the next row, giving the illusion of two colors worked simultaneously. Sneaky, eh? Some fingerless mitts lack a thumb, but for these mitts I constructed a real thumb, so they are more comfortable to wear. These mitts knit up pretty quickly, and in addition to learning the slip stitch technique, you’ll learn how to make a hemmed picot edge. Right now, I’ve got a couple of testknitters working on this pattern, so it’s not available in the shop yet, but it should be soon.

I do enjoy all the wonderful fibers and funky yarns available these days, but in many ways I’m a traditionalist. Give me some cables and a lovely tweedy yarn and I’m a happy girl. And that’s just the combination I’ve put together for the 3-Button Wrap from Plymouth Yarns. Although the pattern is written for the more refined Royal Llama Silk, I chose Plymouth Tweed instead, in a deep chocolate brown with flecks of rust and gold. The pattern combines an easy seed stitch rib with one interesting double-cable panel perfect for those of you interested in learning how to wield a cable needle; three buttonholes and some great chunky buttons complete the look. I’ll be keeping this wrap by my desk, or by the couch or my knitting chair… hmmmm, might have to make a second one!

Finally, I chose a couple more Plymouth patterns—the Cherry Blossom Lace Scarf and Stole and the Cabled Shawl (which involves no cabling!). Both of these patterns feature lovely, lacy stitch patterns that can work for a scarf, a wrap, or an afghan—your choice. Winter warmth comes in all sizes, and can wrap around your neck, your shoulders, or your whole body, depending on the size you choose. These stitch patterns can be a starting point for your own creativity. Again, I found myself looking at the tweedy yarns, deciding finally on Rowan Felted Tweed for both projects. This yarn is softer, finer, and less rustic than the Plymouth Tweed, and really delicious. A couple of weeks ago I helped a friend get started on the Cherry Blossom Lace; she chose Berroco Ultra Alpaca-talk about soft!

Here’s the low-down on my classes: all require basic knowledge of cast on, knit, purl, and bind off. For the Lupine Lace Socks, you must already know how to knit socks; none of the other classes require advanced skills. You’ll learn how to read stitch charts and how to execute the required stitches, and we’ll talk about finishing, design details, and options.

All of these projects would make great gifts, if you can stand to give them away! Or keep them all for yourself, drape yourself head to toes in wool, and keep high heating prices and Old Man Winter at bay. I hope I’ve come up with some projects that will inspire you to learn some new skills. If you’d like to sign up for any of these classes, or to see the entire list of classes available at Kaleidoscope Yarns this fall, click on “KNITTING CLASSES” at the top of the home page. See you in the fall!"


baby face said...

I love the cheater's fair isle
slip stitch pattern that she uses.
What about us onliners that would
like to learn how to do that?
I loved the blog and she had some
very interesting plans for your

Bethany said...

Great job on all the fall classes. They look super. Gotta love this cold weather!!