Thursday, April 29, 2010

Back to reality

Boy did I miss some wacky weather! I got back to Vermont last night from Florida after a week of 85 degree warmth and sun to see the remnants of a big spring snowstorm, that dumped over 2 feet of snow on parts of Vermont. It was spotty - Barb had over 2 feet where she lives, with many trees down and many hours without power. In my town, and by the shop, there wasn't quite as much. But it did cause hiccups for late April that's for sure!

Yesterday morning we found out that both of our flights home to Vermont were cancelled, because of this wacky weather (snowstorm in VT, high winds at JFK). Marc and I worked our cell phones and laptops simultaneously to re-book some tickets. After many moons on hold (no worries, it's not too tough to be on hold when you are sitting on a beach, watching pelicans and dolphins frolicking in the sea) we were able to secure a route home. We did have quite the layover in Philadelphia, which was pretty boring. Thankfully we were all connected!
Shawn was worried I might not come home to the cold weather, but I did, and I must have brought the warmer temps with me. It's supposed to be close to 80 degrees this weekend!

My favorite picture from the trip is Sophie jumping some waves in Miami:And a comparison shot... We've been going to visit my parents in Sanibel for 8 years. This was taken 5 years ago, when the girls were almost 6.And this is from this week. They're almost 11. What a huge change! There was even a little knitting on the trip home. I'm making a baby blanket. The pattern is the Cottage Creations Log Cabin Blanket pattern, and I chose Berroco Comfort DK in 7 shades. It's looking awesome so far, and was a perfect, portable project. Lots of ends to weave in, I confess. But I do them as I go, and it makes it much better.Can't wait to see it when it's finished!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I was going to share with everyone how wonderful it is to live in Vermont during the season of spring. This past weekend was beautiful and sunny and I had ample opportunities to sample spring treats like ramps (wild leeks), fiddleheads, and rhubarb - yum! Spring in Vermont is such an exciting and welcome time of year.

But today we awoke and started our day with this:

Up to 6" forecasted for today through tomorrow morning. Guess we'll have to pull out our coats and hats for just a bit longer!

Jill, we do hope you come home from Florida even though it is snowing in Vermont!

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Pinafore Dress

I can't tell you how many of these patterns we've sold! All because of a cute little ad in a magazine for the Minnowknits Pinafore Dress pattern and the Jil Eaton Cottontail yarn. We've even sold out of the Cottontail yarn (in the same color it's pictured in) several times over.

It's a really cute pattern but I don't like always making something in the yarn it calls for. I'm on vacation now and needed a quick mindless project in a fun yarn. Because I just used Cottontail in the Sheep sweater from Roo Designs, I chose the Mission Falls 1824 Cotton in one of the "whirl" shades for the Pinafore Dress. I picked the "Bouquet" shade in tan and blues... think sand, sky and sea because after all, I was headed to Florida.
It knit up really quickly and is just adorable. The hem definitely curls a bit, but with a bit of blocking it will be perfect.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Comfort-able Knitting and Crocheting

Recently I've been paging through the new Comfort Knitting & Crochet Afghans: More than 50 Beautiful, Affordable Designs featuring Berroco's Comfort yarns put together by Norah Gaughan, Margery Winter, and the Berroco Design Team. It's a beautiful book and I am always enthusiastic about collections of many attractive, well written patterns. It's a bonus that these afghans come in so many styles and sizes, and that they include patterns for both knitting and crochet.

When you
add the color options for Berroco Comfort yarns, the book really contains an endless supply of afghan patterns to choose from. Despite the overwhelming number of possibilities, I did pick out a
couple of my favorite knitting and crochet patterns to share - just to give you a peek at what is possible. (You can see ALL of the patterns in this book on the website here.)

My favorite knitted afghans are
Bright Star:This is a quilt-like pattern worked in intarsia mitered squares and the photograph really shines for me because of all the bright colors incorporated in this sample.

... and Autumn Haze:
This reminds me of leaf peeping season in the Northeast. It's similar to an afghan I made last year in that it's all worked in one piece. So that means no seaming, but not so portable. I love the colors in the photo, but I think this would look just as stunning in blues and greens with just a bit of yellow or purple.

My favorite crocheted afghans are
... Ribbon: This is such an unusual texture because it's broomstick lace created using a US 35 knitting needle rather than a broomstick. It's a very appealing pattern for me and I love the feathered little leaflets repeated over the entire piece. This one is done in panels which are pieced together in different directions, varying the texture and pattern.

This one is no surprise! I just finished up a double ended crochet class here at the shop and took a trip to Maine too! The bright colors and the contrasting shades that look like shadows catch my eye in this piece. I really like that the blocks are put together so that the ridges are oriented in different directions. Since this piece is created in squares, it would be a great travel piece.

... and Aran:I have a couple of friends who are going to be married at the end of the summer and I think I may just have to tackle this one as their gift. The twined cables are gorgeous! I've been practicing my "cabling without a needle" skills during our Cabling 101 class and I think I am ready for the challenge of a large scale project like this one. Wish me luck in finishing it up in time!

NOTE: Please be aware that there are just a few errata/corrections
posted for this book here:

Friday, April 23, 2010

Pageboy Hat

A while ago a friend of mine asked me if I could make a hat with a brim for her. So I went on a search for an appropriate pattern. There are a lot of them out there, but many of them call for putting some reinforcement material in the brim so that it keeps it's shape (I didn't want to do that) or the hat itself just wasn't what I envisioned for this person. Then one day I was filing patterns in the shop and came across the perfect pattern! The Stitch Diva Girly Couture: Trendy Knit Hats Collection by Tina Whitmore has three hat options. One of them is a Pageboy hat with a felted brim. The hat is knit, and the brim is knit and then felted and sewn in after it has dried. This creates a flexible but sturdy brim that keeps its shape without the added thickness of a fully felted hat.

I picked out Malabrigo Chunky. O
ne skein is enough if you are careful to get gauge - I had only a couple of yards left over! It's very soft for a hat, and felts really well so the brim was perfect. The pattern is easy to understand and it was a quick knit. The only downside was waiting for the felted brim to dry so that I could finish the whole thing up!

I liked this
one so much I immediately cast on with a second color of Malabrigo Chunky so I would have one of these for myself!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Birthday Madness

Recently I've been surrounded by birthdays and though I've been knitting like crazy to try to keep up, I haven't been keeping up! I am not a slow knitter, but I'm not a fast knitter, either. So I may be behind the actual birthday dates, but sometimes that just happens with handmade gifts.

I recently gifted this pair of fingerless mitts.
I knit them with Noro Silk Garden in the same colorway as my own recently dubbed "Rainbow Trout Gloves". I've had to be very careful lately that my gloves didn't 'disappear.' Now that my friend has her own I think I'm safe!

One of my favorite yarns is the Rowan Lima - it's so soft. Because I love knitting with this yarn, I will certainly be very sad to gift this hat.
My friend (the recipient) has already had a chance to see and feel this one while in progress. He's already asked me twice if I'm finished despite the fact that we've been having a lot of warm, sunny days in Vermont this spring.
Here's another Lima hat that I've been wearing:

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Double Ended Crochet

We had such a great response to our Crochet Series Classes that I thought I'd share a little of what we did last week in our Crochet II Class: Double Ended Crochet.
I used some of the new Jil Eaton Cottontail and hooked up a couple of dishclothes in spring-y colors. They were quick to work up and finished up soft and thick in this yarn. The double ended crochet technique is what gives them the two color look - and I love that the back is a reverse of the front.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Entertaining the Big Kids

We recently recieved a shipment from Spud & Chloe. Included in the box, was a color picture of their new Watermelon Hat, which is a free pattern on their blog. It was so bright and cheerful that I just had to grab some Spud & Chloe Sweater yarn and knit one up for the shop.
I knit it up in an afternoon and just happened to show it to a friend of mine. My friend's NOT a gusher. But she gushed. And she gushed.

It gets worse better. The gushing was followed by "Will you make me a watermelon hat that I can wear?" I didn't think she was serious. But she really did want an adult version of the watermelon hat!

I love knitting with the Spud & Chloe Sweater yarn, so I agreed to make her one. I didn't think she'd actually wear it. But check this out:
Lot of my friends have now seen (and loved) the hat and there've been more requests from the "Big Kids". Guess I better go get started on the pumpkin and the eggplant...

A picture says a thousand words

I'm giving India a big thumb's up for these photos that she shared with me recently! Hope you enjoy them.
This is the Shoulder Shawl from the Victorian Lace Today book. She used Noro Sekku, Noro's new lace weight yarn.
Many of you ask us how to properly block lace projects. This picture explains it all:
Vermont is famous for it's mud season, although I think we managed to skip most of it this year, due to the strange weather. I love how the mud boots were captured in this shot:

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Manic-In Monday

This week I've loaned our gal my most recently finished item... a gorgeous shawl that I knit for myself. This shawl is super easy to make, and is in over 2400 projects on Ravelry. (Over 1350 have been finished, if you want to take a look.) She's paired it with a cute top that is the perfect layering piece for when the weather flip flops as it's been doing recently.
Sweater: Diorama sweater knit with Berroco Vintage. Pattern can be found in Berroco Book #290, Vintage

Shawl: Citron Shawl (free pattern on knit with the new Manos del Uruguay Serena. This is my new GO-TO shawl yarn! You have to try it...

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Do you have bathrobe envy?

India came in today and showed us a couple of her recently finished items. One of them has been in the planning stages for several years. If any of you know India, you know she's sort of a Koigu fanatic. She's made socks, shawls, sweaters, scarves, hats (you name it) out of Koigu. She always has quite a stash of Koigu, and no doubt a chunk of it went to this project!

Could it perhaps be the first (and only? we don't know!) handknit Koigu bathrobe? Here are some stats:
  • All garter stitch
  • Single stranded Koigu KPPPM on size 7 needles
  • All seams are 3 needle bindoff
  • Crochet reinforcement across top to stabilize width from wrist to wrist
  • Took about 4 months to complete (with numerous other projects in between!)
  • 13 colors in the body and collar/placket, with an estimated 30+ more colors in the sleeves (remember the Koigu "Creativitiy Packs" we sold a while back? Guess who bought a bunch...?)

Who wouldn't want to wrap themselves up in handpainted merino each morning while making sandwiches, reading the paper and drinking coffee?

Next time I put on my cotton bathrobe, I may just have bathrobe envy!

Don't be scared of lace!

Lace knitting seems to bring out some of the most interesting opinions in the shop. Some people love it and some people hate it. Others are intrigued, but just plain intimidated by some part of the process whether it is the materials, tools, or pattern. So I thought I would share some things that can make lace knitting feel less intimidating, or a lace project feel more friendly.

You see there are some secrets (now keep this quiet!) to those comments that I hear all the time
about lace knitting in the shop.

Oh the yarn is so thin or slippery!
Oh the charts are so hard to read or follow!

Why is it so hard to keep track of my pattern or the number of stitches in each repeat?

1. Light. Yes, light. Lace is by definition a delicate open fabric and it can be difficult to work if you don't illuminate it. Why work in less than optimum conditions? Please don't try to knit lace in a darkened room in front of your television. But, if you do insist on sitting in a less than bright place to work on your lace, at least use the right tools! A Mighty Bright LED lamp clipped close to your project will give you better ligthing, but won't disturb anyone else near you....

2. Stitch markers. Yes, stitch markers. Nothing like knitting 400 or more stitches only to find at the end of the row that you must have mis-counted something earlier in the row. The tiny little Lace & Sock Rings are perfect! Place these between your repeats and you will tell almost immediately if/when you've lost your place.

3. Highlighter Tape. I don't know whose brilliant idea this was, but come on! You can't beat it. Removable, "re-stickable" tape that comes in different colors. Put it right on your pattern and the CHART so that it looks as if you've just used a highlighter pen to mark the row you are on. Cover the row below and the row above just to increase the odds of following the correct row of your chart!

4. Lace Needles. Addi Turbo makes needles specifically designed for working lace. These needles have a finer more tapered tip to help you with your delicate stitches and those finer yarns. They also have a special coating to increase the friction (not too much!) of slippery yarn moving over your needle. The nylon cord is extremely supple just like the regular Addi needles, and they come in lengths all the way up to 60" so you can fit all 10,000 stitches on your needle.

5. T-pins & Blocking Wires. There is nothing more disapointing than starting a gorgeous new lace pattern only to realize that your knitting looks like a giant blob of very fine fabric that bears no resemblence to the beautiful photo in your pattern. Don't fret! Everyone's lace projects appear bloblike until they have been blocked. Do yourself a favor, relax, brew a cup of tea, breath deeply and continue bravely on. Be content in the knowledge that t-pins and some sort of blocking wires (exhibit A or B) will help you achieve great things with your finished piece.

Now doesn't it seem like lace could be a great new adventure for your summer knitting?

and not so scary!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Citron finished!

I finished my Citron shawl this weekend. It definitely needed a good blocking! It dried in no time, since it was in the mid-80's outside. Our screens weren't in yet and so the windows were shut in order to keep out those pesky cluster flies. The temps inside the house were quite toasty, but perfect for drying knits!

It is beautiful. The yarn is so soft! I'm not sure I'd knit a sweater out of it, might be a tad too drapey. But shawls and scarves, of course. It's just perfect. Very soft!

So in addition to popping a few cold weather growing seeds into my garden (way ahead of my normal schedule), finishing my shawl, and squeezing in a down and back trip to the Concord, NH Target (I know it sounds extreme, but when the temps are this high and your kids have outgrown everything, it's a necessity) and getting outside to exercise in the gorgeous and warm weather, we pulled off another egg hunt for the girls.

Helen is quite the competitor, and likes to win at everything. In order to make it fair, I hid candy-filled eggs in groups of two. I put a notecard with a number on it with each pair of eggs. The idea was they had to work together to find all of the eggs, instead of running around and seeing who could collect the most.

We told them where the eggs labeled #1 were, and then they split up to find the rest. They couldn't pick them up out of order, so when one of them found #2, she'd have to wait for her sister to come over, they'd each take an egg, and split up to search for #3. It was sort of a memory game - they'd pass eggs that weren't the right number, but when they got to that number, if they remembered correctly, they would know exactly where to go.

Marc thought I was crazy and that it was too complicated. But then he always doubts my egg hunt "rules" and every year (including this year) he admits at the end that it was a good idea, it worked, and that the kids loved it. So there!

Before this year's hunt, Helen said, "Well, Mom... we're 10 now, so don't expect me to RUN or anything."

Okay, Helen. It looks to me like this is a full-blown run. (Note the shoes - one still in midair!)

Monday, April 05, 2010

Manic-In Monday

Did you notice we skipped a week? Not because the mannequin wasn't featuring a change of clothes, but because I was playing a bit of catch-up from being out of town the week before. Sorry - will try to do better in the future!

This week's outfit is definitely one of my favorite sweaters. Take a beautiful sweater pattern and pair it with two luxurious yarns, and the result is spectacular. This sweater is so figure flattering, and looks amazing whether dressed up or down. Even when knit with a non beaded yarn, this sweater is a winner.
Sweater Pattern: Stitch Diva Simple Knitted Bodice: has options for short-sleeves!