Category Archives: Knitting

Summer 2014 sweater update

Okay, as promised here are the rest of my notable knitting projects.

In some 13+ years of knitting, I have only made one adult sweater (a boxy men’s pullover) and a handful of kids’ and babies’ sweaters. And in the past year or so, I haven’t knitted at all! But suddenly this has all changed. I have sweaters on the brain.

First up, during the recently-mentioned inventory of my yarn and fiber stash, I discovered my superwash merino yarn. I had taken 4 ounces of blue/yellow dyed fiber, 4 ounces of purple/orange, and 8 ounces of red-purple/gold, and combined them all into one project that used the concepts in Color in Spinning to get a beautifully heathered and flecked blend of complementary analogous colors. I had 13 ounces of bouncy round purplish DKish 2-ply and knew that quantity would not be enough yardage to clothe my little girl for long. So I looked for a simple stockinette cardigan that would showcase the colors and textures of the yarn while being a fast knit, and no annoying buttons. I found a winner in Harvest, the free pattern from tincanknits that’s sized for newborn to 4XL. My gauge wasn’t quite right, but it was dead easy to adjust by knitting from a larger size’s stitch count. I started this in June, and now the body is done and one sleeve started. Not long now!

handspun-harvest-wip-2

 

Next, I started contemplating my fleeces. I had that gorgeous gray Corrie/Merino…I started searching for long lightweight drapey cardigan patterns, and quickly rediscovered Old Town by Carol Sunday. I loved the lines, the sleeves, the lace. I knew that the funky modular construction would keep me chugging along better than a typical architecture with long monotonous sections. I spun a quick sample of my yarn and swatched it, hit gauge immediately with a semi-woolen sport weight that had amazing elasticity and made a cohesive fabric but still showed up yarnovers nicely in my swatch without blocking. I started spinning the yarn for TdF, and once I had about 8 ounces spun I couldn’t stand it any more and plied up enough to start knitting. I’m now through the yoke and ready to start the sleeves; I estimate I’m 1/4 of the way through and I’ve used about 2.6 ounces. This is going to be an airy sweater! I’ll spin up 14-16 ounces for good measure, since I’m planning to knit the tunic length.

old-town-wip-2

Finally, in my quest to reduce the volume of my stash I bumped into my sweater quantity of Holiday Yarns Super Sheep DK. I’d purchased it for a cardigan KAL but when the knitting hit a snag, I realized I had never actually wanted a cardigan in this color anyway. :\ I’ve been debating for years whether to send the whole lot out to be overdyed, but this time when I pulled it out, I started mulling over a non-cardigan pattern for it…maybe something cabled, to use up as much as possible of the yardage…and I realized that for a close-fitting pullover, this color was just fine! Well, close-fitting means it has to fit my figure, and I’ve got me some curves. I knew I wanted a pattern that would accommodate vertical bust darts and other tweaks to the shaping. This search lead me straight to Amy Herzog, who apparently in my year of knitting hiatus has become THE guru of fitted knits! Her Alta pattern is textured and cozy, fitted and flirty, with the detail up the arms and the big ol’ cowl neck that should balance my figure nicely. Between my gauge (I’m knitting a little finer than the pattern calls for) and the adjustments I wanted to make for my figure, I had to do a little math, but in the end I am somewhat confident in my decision to knit the stitch count that will give me an inch or so of ease at the high bust, but add an extra inch or so of room to the full bust. I’m not actually sure if I’ll be brave enough to knit and wear that impressively large collar, but I have plenty of time to decide to adjust it to be a scoop neck. In the meantime, I’m actually kind of liking this knit flat in pieces thing! An entire arm is done — done! — and I’m probably 4-5″ into the back.

alta-wip-2

The last two sweaters in my lineup are still in the planning stage. DS has been watching as I knit sweaters for his sister and myself, and as I talk about and execute various yarn design strategies. He’s grown increasingly excited to have me knit a perfect sweater of his own. The original plan had me using scrap fiber from my stash, and DS sketched me up a design that was full of stripes and glow-in-the-dark fiber and various features included to maximize snowball fighting efficacy. But over time we’ve gotten (hopefully) more practical. I’ve accumulated a range of very soft blue wools that I will blend into a single heathered yarn. I also got ahold of some glow-in-the-dark fiber that I will blend with some assorted white wool as an accent. I might just design a simple raglan from scratch, or base it on the Wonderful Wallaby. But DS and I do both love Veronik Avery’s Magnus hoodie from the BT Kids collection. First things first: card the fiber, sample the spinning, THEN we can make final decisions on the pattern!

blue-sweater-fiber

The last sweater is another planned stashbuster. After my baby knits business petered out, I was left with a couple of pounds of Peace Fleece inventory. I’ve thought for a while about making it into a big cozy colorwork sweater, but finally this month I started acting on this plan. I *hope* I have enough yarn to make an Elizabeth Zimmermann Three-and-One cardigan. It will be knit in the round and steeked. I will incorporate other shades of Peace Fleece and even a little Bartlettyarns if I have to on the sleeves and/or buttonbands. It will be shapeless, but with two layers of PF it will be so warm! And the colors are to die for. I have my needles set and my yarn wound and my colorwork chart copied out, but I think I’ll make myself finish another big project before starting this one. We’ll see.

three-and-one-yarn

Phew! I will aim for a fall knitting update and hope to show lots of progress…back to school is in two weeks! My baby girl starts kindergarten, so for the first time I may have multiple full days per week in which to accomplish household tasks and my own projects…we will see what the future holds.

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Summer 2014 knitting projects: non-sweaters

I really wanted to keep up some knitting/spinning content here so I am going to let ‘er rip with a quick summary of what I’ve been up to knitting-wise.

First, a quick note…I just wanted to record here for posterity that I entered a few handspun yarns in our area fair. I was so gratified to find that they won 4 blue ribbons! (First place, but in the Danish system, which just means the judges didn’t feel the need to deduct more than 10 points for faults — there were many blue ribbons, on many beautiful yarns.) I also won a Merit Award, which I believe was the only rosette given to a handspun skein this year. I was pretty pleased.

Okay, but knitting content. So, my knitting stalled right along with my spinning and blogging this year. But when I inventoried my fiber stash in June, I also poked around in my yarn. I remembered the dreams and plans I’d had for yarns and patterns, and started to feel inspiration well up. Before I knew it, I’d unearthed WIPs, frogged projects that had no hope of being finished, and cast on like a mad thing. When I began, I was mostly motivated to knit down stash since I didn’t want to go through the hassle of selling. But along the way I think I’ve rekindled some serious knit love, as well as shedding a lot of negative feelings (about knitting for myself, about having multiple WIPs, and so on.)

Of particular note, after 10.5 years of semi-regular knitting, I have finally cast on some sweaters for MEEE! It’s extremely thrilling.

But in the process I’ve also found that it’s pretty important for me to have a sock on the needles for every member of the family. It keeps me in mindless portable projects, which is terrific for car rides and swim lessons and doctors’ offices. Here’s the current family of socks.

july-socks-progress

For DD, some purple striped socks that *barely* fit her now, I started them over two years ago so it will be a miracle if they go on her feet at all, but I am ready to close the toe on the second one now so I soldier on. For DS, he selected this red/green/brown McIntosh colorway from Huckleberry Knits, because “it will be Christmas by the time the socks are done,” but admonished me to add plenty of growing room — his last socks had to be frogged because he outgrew them. D’oh. The Willow BFL/nylon sock base is delightful to knit. For DH, the infamous husband socks. I bought the Fiber Optic merino/cashmere/nylon at Sock Summit 2011, modified Priscilla’s Dream Socks with a manly mock cable rib, and have been working on them on and off ever since, getting bitten or attacked by the knitting as well as suffering from bouts of apathy. And then the socks for me, which are mostly handspun, yay! At Sock Summit I took a class from Judith Mackenzie called Fleece on your Feet, and took four wool samples home. For Tour de Fleece 2012 I combed and spun them all up into 3-ply worsted-spun sock yarns, but there they have sat subject to my indecision about how to incorporate them into socks: all in one pair? In several pairs? Scientific analysis with variables controlled or just something I can wear? Finally in June I cast on, planning four separate socks with the handspun covering as much as possible of the ball of the foot and the heel while the rest of the sock was made up of Damselfly Sturdy Sheep or Gnomespun Phouka (high-twist 4-ply merino/nylon that I think might actually be the same base.) In the photo is sock #3, from Wedding Cake the Lopez Special Romney X, with Gnomespun Ouranos.

I also started a little scarf with a lace border, Chic Knits Alby from Huckleberry Knits merino/bison that’s been in stash for…ugh, nearly 3 years. This may be a gift or it may not, I refuse to spoil the knitting with deadlines. I just know it will be good to have this lovely yarn used…to the right of the photo, on top of the natural colored ball of yarn, is my blocked swatch. This yarn blocks BEAUTIFULLY. The pattern is pretty clever, you knit the lace border and then pick up along the side to knit the center of the scarf/shawlette in a modified crescent. It’s designed for alternating stripes but I’ll make it solid with the natural wool, or Fibonacci stripes, since I have less colored than natural wool.

alby-scarf-wip

In the name of stash-busting, I gathered together all the Cascade Eco Wool I’d picked up from my local yarn store before it closed, and cast it on for a giant cozy Elizabeth Zimmermann Garter-stitch Blanket (inspired by Jared Flood’s Big Squishy Lovefest). It’s so squishy! And the garter is going fast on US15 needles. I’m nearly done with the first modular piece.

garter-blanket-wip

And I think that will have to suffice for today! I will add more about my 3 started and 3 planned sweater projects in another post.

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Getting my groove back

The beginning of 2012 hasn’t been good for me and fiber. I felt my interest waning a little bit in the weeks leading up to our vacation to California. Other things were SO much more fascinating than boring ol’ yarn and fiber: namely, a burgeoning interest in accounting, of all things. Given the chance to spin, knit, or read about non-profit bookkeeping — I’d choose the latter, every time. I know. Taking fickle mindedness too far!

Unfortunately, by the time I got home from California to the dreary gray February Pacific Northwest, ennui and disinterest had bloomed into an outright revulsion for all things yarn, fiber, spinning, and knitting. I looked at my stash and wheels and I shuddered at the waste of space…and then I recoiled at the complete break in my own personality I was experiencing! This wasn’t me! I now think there was something like Seasonal Affective Disorder bringing me down.

The annual Whidbey Weavers Guild Spin-In was approaching at the end of March and my attitude toward fiber still had not lightened. My parents urged me to attend (egging me on with offers of free babysitting), and I resisted at first, but at last I relented, hoping to see some friends there. And as I prepared to go, something started to re-kindle within me. I looked at my wheels and instead of complete disgust, I saw a window of opportunity…I was struck by a vision of using a petite and portable and extraordinarily quiet little wheel in the living room of my house while my children sleep. Not making unusually fine yarn or complicated or difficult yarn, but just yarn. Usable yarn. Plenty of it. So I looked at the balance in my checking account and decided I hadn’t used my “mad money” allotment in a few months — I took a check with me to the Spin-In, to put a deposit down on a Pocket Wheel. Step one of re-entry into the world of fiber bliss was complete.

As I sat and listened to the lecture (on wild silks of India) I basked in the presence of super neat fiber folks. The next day I headed back to the event bright and early, and got some shopping done. While idly browsing (thoughts at the back of my head involved a sweater quantity of dark rich brownish something or other) I stumbled across the Island Fibers booth, where I noticed the bags of fleece. The first one I beelined my way to was the most incredible deep black shot through with silver and tipped with ruddy red-blond.

sally bill lockAs a clear vision of a gorgeous heathered yarn popped into my head, I saw the tag on the fleece…in lieu of a breed it was marked simply, “Sally Bill Special”. I think my jaw dropped at this point. Just last summer, in a class on choosing and spinning fleece for socks, Judith Mackenzie had shared with us a Sally Bill fleece. Sally was a shepherdess on the San Juan Islands — on Lopez no less, an island with which I have a deep affinity and a decently long history. She imported a Romney/Lincoln flock to the island, but closed gene pool being what it is, she used any local ram to procure lambs. As it turned out, she was something of a genius when it came to selecting for the traits she preferred in a handspinner’s fleece, so even seeming-random breedings were chosen to improve her flock and she culled the remaining ewes carefully to progress her wool toward an ideal. Judith raved about this flock and held it up as an example of how a flock can excel in producing handspinner’s fleece despite its lack of pedigree. Judith! And here was one of the golden fleeces, within striking distance!

I didn’t hesitate. I nearly elbowed the customer out of the way who had been checking out when I discovered my prize. I had never purchased a whole fleece before, and I knew that the $16/pound price was a bit of a premium, but I didn’t care. I had to have it. And this was step two of rediscovering the joy in fiber. I beamed so wide I feared my face would split. I ran around finding everyone I was on speaking terms with, shoving handsful of raw smelly sheepswool locks at them. “DID YOU SEE WHAT I JUST GOT???” I shared my bliss with everyone.

The majority of the fleece went to the fiber processor on site, who happened to be Taylored Fibers. I hadn’t worked with any of their roving before, but I really liked what I’d seen and fondled at their booth in previous fiber shows. I put my faith and my fleece in the capable hands of Mr. Taylor, keeping just about 8 ounces to play with.

And once I got home, play I did. I washed the fleece and then started preparing it. I started by combing a few locks and it seemed I was exactly right, that the silvery bits and sun bleached tips would lighten and warm the black fibers into an interestingly flecked shade of deepest espresso or dark chocolate.

brown-black combed top

I spun some worsted samples from combed top, and at the other end of the spectrum I spun some woolen and semi-woolen samples from hand carded slivers.

woolen and worsted spun yarns

I loved these yarns. I remained so pleased with my purchase.

And then today, Mr. Taylor visited my island and brought my roving with him! The final tally was 4.75 pounds of roving from 7 pounds of fleece, and it is GORGEOUS.

bump of brown roving

It resembles nothing so much as my own hand combed top, it’s nicely blended and has minimal veggie matter and almost no neps. As soon as I could I grabbed a chunk and introduced it to my CPW, using my current favorite semi-woolen draw (attenuated short draw with twist in the fiber supply for a lofty and bouncy but fairly smooth and even result). Spinning it was HEAVEN. I have never, ever had such a nice spinning experience. It drafted almost on auto-pilot, it enthralled me with its dancing colors, it was so soft and touchable! The diameter and twist it wanted to spin at with my default spinning was a lovely versatile singles. I wound it off and did my oft-used sampling method of winding an Andean bracelet, then re-winding the resulting two strands into another bracelet, so that I could ply together four strands and get a round yarn from just one singles without the added complication of Navajo plying. I spindle plied about 9 yards, then finished it somewhat roughly.

yarn on leaf

I LOVE THIS YARN. I love the color. I love the handle. I love the bounce and the slight sheen, I love the evenly consistent grist. The whole experience of creating it has nearly left me breathless with the pure enjoyment of it. LOVE.

I even started a little swatch, knitting it up on US 6 needles in a k3p2 rib. Do you see the squooshy 3-dimensionality? This yarn wants to be cables! I think it might be a little too fat for the project I have in mind, but I predict a 3-ply might be just what the doctor ordered.

k3p2 ribbed swatch

So there you have it. I’m back. I am more in love with wool than ever, and I’m feeling a little more sedate about it. Instead of ambition and braggadocio, I’m feeling a quiet and steady, deep and abiding satisfaction. It’s wool…it’s all good, man. 🙂

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Sock Summit afterglow

Aaaahhhh.

That was amazing. Hectic, a bit stressful, but wow.

So here’s the rough and ready recap. Thursday afternoon we arrived, checked in at the hotel, headed to Brewfest to meet a great college friend. I was driving so I couldn’t do much damage at the 80 or so taps, but I snuck a few tastes from hubby. We caught up with our friend and met his family, then went back to have a late dinner at the hotel’s pub.

Friday morning was an early start, since I was scheduled for a 9am class and still needed to register and figure out where the heck I was going. I bumped in to a spinner from Whidbey first thing, and just that one friendly face soothed my nerves. I found my class, and another acquaintance to whom I introduced myself by my Rav name – only to be accosted by nearby students exclaiming, “Ohhh, it’s YOU!” That was to be a frequent theme of the weekend, and a source of great amusement and pleasure to me. I thought I was barely tolerated, at best, on Ravelry, but here were all these people honestly glad to see me in person. Wow.

First up was Judith’s class on Sheep Feet, where we got to play with piles upon piles of absolutely gorgeous Judith-selected fleeces from across the country. I feel more confident already to select a fleece of my own, and I came away with many little baggies stuffed full of fleece to play more with later. I can’t believe how much information is already dribbling back out of my overstuffed brain though. Why were we supposed to take the less tippy part of the Cormo, and after lock-washing it, were we supposed to flick or to comb it? Gah.

At noon I rushed around like a chicken with my head cut off, meeting my Fleece to Foot team, delivering my wheel to Huckleberry Knits’s booth in the Marketplace (collecting my club fiber from her — divine!), heading out with the group to Subway, eating and strategizing, returning to the Marketplace just about in time to browse for 10 minutes then head to my one-hour class on Natural Dyeing. Kristine from Verb gave us a great overview and I was as inspired as I’d anticipated. Instead of worrying about getting just the perfect color, it’s OK to sort of experiment with natural dyes, determining the palette that YOU get with YOUR water and YOUR available dyestuffs. I envision a stockpile of dyed fleece in every color I can muster, ready to use as-is or to blend a la Deb Menz for an infinite spectrum. And I need to get a good book on foraging dye plants because I keep looking at the weeds with a new eye but would like to have some help figuring out which are worth my time to test out. The minute my class was over, I ran out the door where my husband picked me up on the curb. We did a little tax-free shopping at Fred Meyer, spent some time in the soaking pool, then Indian food for dinner with great company from his sister and our nephew. After dinner we went to Cowboys and Aliens, which wasn’t quite as good as we’d been anticipating (in retrospect the whole thing was remarkably cheesy), but still an entertaining good time.

Saturday was early, again. For once though it wasn’t just me driving the schedule, hubby had someplace to be at 9am on the other side of town. I walked into the Convention Center and immediately was met with familiar faces, confused people by knowing them, offered my Rav name to their puzzled expressions, received an immediate softening and brightening and huggening of people’s facades. I expressed to these newfound old friends that I was concerned: my class started at 9, but my wheel was in the marketplace that was closed until 9! But immediately someone flagged down an event Authority Figure, who provided me immediate access behind closed doors. So grateful to friends! I was set up at my next class with time to spare.

This time Judith deluged us with luxury fibers. Superfine alpaca! Cashmere! Silk blends! The tactile experience was divine and the yarns we spun were outrageously lovely. I walked away from that class completely confident that I could make socks that are whisper thin, heavenly soft, and that will wear like iron.

Lunch proved to be my one opportunity to shop the marketplace, so I didn’t worry about eating and instead got down to business. I came away with four braids of fiber (Schafenfreude, Spirit Trail, and Huckleberry Knits), one skein of yarn (Fiber Optic), a set of needles suited to the yarn (DyakCraft), a diz and a pad for clamping my hand combs to a table. Oh, and some gorgeous soap and a lip balm (Goodies Unlimited). I’d meant to be a little more careful with my spending, but honestly when faced with the overwhelming selection of yarns and fibers and tools with no shipping and no sales tax, products I’ve known of and even lusted after for years, I think I got off easy! Then it was off to my afternoon class. I’d really been looking forward to this Ergonomics of Knitting session and it proved to be every bit as interesting as I’d anticipated. I think I’ve already made some positive changes in my knitting technique to keep myself from getting achey after just a few minutes, and learned a lot of tips and tricks for keeping my whole body limber. I still need to email Carson and pester him about how I should be sitting at the spinning wheel though.

Almost immediately after leaving the convention I headed out to meet with one of my oldest friends, my college roommate and bridesmaid whom I haven’t seen since my wedding. It was wonderful to see her and to catch up on each other’s lives. After that I rejoined hubby for dinner, and we played pool for a while before heading to bed.

Sunday was check-out day. Hubby concocted a wild plan to get on his bike first thing in the morning while I took the car to the event. I parked, got my wheel, headed to another spinning class as the Fleece to Foot competition started to gear up. In class Janel Laidman gave us some neat tricks for spinning fine yarns and for working with color. The level of this class was geared a little more for less advanced spinners than the Judith classes had been, but I still loved the variety of fibers we worked with and the different perspective from a new teacher (since before that I’d only ever been in class with Judith!) We took a break at about 10:15 and I rushed over to cheer for my F2F team. I didn’t really bother looking at the other teams, but assured our folks that they were doing great — and they were! Flicking locks and spinning lovely yarns. When class was finished another old college friend rang me up, so I took off to meet her. We had a coffee and a light lunch, then parted ways and I had just a few minutes to head back to the competition. I met Sandi Wiseheart in person and she signed her article in the copy of Spin Off I’d just picked up a few days ago! I again cheered and reassured my team who were well into the knitting portion of the competition. Seeing that they were fully stocked for participants, it was rush rush once more, sprinting over to a lecture from Fiona Ellis on how to practice creativity and find inspiration. It was very interesting and gave me some good ideas as well as a lot of prospects for interesting books to read on the subject.

And with that I was off! Rushing through the convention center, dashing to the car, I peeled out and headed north to find my husband who at that point had already been on his bicycle for six hours. I caught him some 60 miles into Washington (he’d taken winding side roads and had headed part way up Mount Saint Helens before descending again, putting his total mileage around 120). A quick snack and we took off toward our island, battling traffic to walk in the door at 8:30pm to a wonderful chorus of “Mommy! Daddy!” from our sweet little munchkins.

It was a great trip, but way way too hectic. I wish I’d had more time for the Marketplace, for Rav friends, and for IRL friends. I also wish my poor beleaguered husband hadn’t felt so sidelined. But I am glowing with the amazing energy of the whole event, the pleasure of the social interaction and all those neurons firing with new ideas prompted from the knowledge I received over the course of the weekend.

I think I’ll post soon with some of the ideas that are percolating in the aftermath. Prepping, spinning, knitting, and keeping my fiber hobby self-supporting in the process. But now? I return to my home duties and my kids, as well as my spinning and knitting projects already in progress…

But the best coda to the whole weekend was learning that “my” Fleece to Foot team WON the competition! I know I can’t really take any credit, but I do hope that some of my advice and input was helpful, and I am extremely proud that it was my suggestion that made us choose Doctors Without Borders as our charity and thus the recipient of a $300 donation as the team’s prize.

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When I grow up

So, I’m having one of those flail-sessions this week. Can you see my muppet-arms flying up as I dash around in circles gibbering? Hubby asks me what I see myself doing in 5 years, when the kids are old enough for school, and I just. don’t. know. Among other worries, the job market on this island is just so limited. I have always foreseen that as the biggest drawback to this otherwise idyllic choice of location.

But it does occur to me that fiber is a serious, serious passion for me. Like nothing my crazy dilettante interests have ever led me into, fiber just draws me deeper and deeper and never really leaves my life. I spin and knit and before long I will weave. I get a thrill every time I touch fiber or yarn and every time I take a finished skein or garment off the drying rack. Can I make a career, or a direction for my life, out of this passion?

There are retail options. Running a yarn and fiber store, or selling fiber goods online: Hand-dyed yarn and fiber? or knitted or woven items? I’ll never be one of these popular indie dyers — I’ve neither the color sense nor the chemistry skill to run a dye pot and consistently produce high-quality goods with irresistible color. I am pretty loathe to get back into selling finished objects; I found it difficult to impossible to find balance between work knitting and pleasure/practical family knitting, back when I sold baby things. Maybe I could regain that balance though. One consideration I think of is that the more basic the materials one starts with, the more labor goes in but the less cost for materials and the less markup to middle men. If I got to a point of acquiring fleeces from local shepherds, prepping and dyeing and spinning them, then selling the yarn and/or weaving or knitting usable items, the items would be particularly unique and I might just be able to pay myself and turn a profit to boot.

I also keep coming back to the yarn shop thing though. What a joy to be surrounded by yarn and fiber, to talk to knitters and spinners all day, and I could have a studio space and a mail order business on the side. I’m going to try to get to know Carol from our local yarn shop. Maybe I can figure out a way to apprentice with her and see how the nitty-gritty of customer service and inventory management and payroll works out in real life. Honestly, I can kind of really see myself doing that. I look at the offerings at the community college sometimes, and I am thinking maybe I can get some business-related classes under my belt as I begin to prepare. I will also, of course, want to be a truly excellent spinner and knitter before I get to the point of running a shop where I’ll be expected to give advice and teach classes. So that keeps the Master Knitter certification at the forefront for me, and gives me even more incentive to seek out instruction wherever I can find it (Madrona, SOAR, the Spin-In).

But I don’t know. It’s so hard to think of adding more to my life, when I am in this stage of barely being able to keep up with my kids and house! And almost impossible to think of sending my babies off to school…

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Filed under Knitting, Raising Myself, Small Town Life, Spinning, TKGA Master Hand Knitting

Looking back, looking forward

I decided to track down some hard dates for posterity’s sake, and here they are.

On February 28, 1999, I ordered Crocheting in Plain English by Maggie Righetti from Amazon.com. That was the second semester of my sophomore year of college. My roommate was learning to knit and I remembered my crocheting babysitter from childhood. I decided to jump on a new hobby.

Crocheting was fun but it wasn’t quite my style. Especially not with all the acrylic yarn I was using. I did  make a handful of cotton hot pads and dish cloths, LOL.

Surprisingly (I was so sure I learned knitting while still in the dorms!) I didn’t order How to Knit by Debbie Bliss and Knitting in Plain English by Maggie Righetti until July 9, 2001. That was after my college graduation, holy moly. I was probably celebrating having gotten a paycheck from my new job as a veterinary assistant. I was still confined to acrylic department store yarns though. I didn’t finish a single project.

My next knitting purchase was on January 11, 2004. Ah, yes. This is the real beginning of it all. Less than a year married, husband in his second year of medical school and spending increasing amounts of time away from home. It was a cold winter in Cleveland at the end of 2003 and I wanted to do something palpable to show my sweetie I was thinking of him. I found a forum on Livejournal about knitting and learned of the existence of Local Yarn Stores. I unearthed a scarf pattern from the Martha Stewart Living website, asked my husband what his favorite color was (blue), and set out to purchase yarn at my nearest LYS. I bought Plymouth Encore (a wool/acrylic blend) in light and dark blue, knit the scarf with just a few errors, and was hooked. Enough to buy The Knit Stitch by Sally Melville, and two Elizabeth Zimmermann books: Knitting without Tears and the Knitter’s Almanac. EZ, wow. EZ opened my horizons and showed me just how far knitting could take me. EZ turned an idle dabbling into a full-bore life-changing obsession. Ah, nostalgia. 🙂

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So you want to be a Master Knitter?

Last week I was swatching some twisted stitch patterns in hopes of using one for the button band of the cardigan I’m working on. I was using an old issue of Cast On magazine (the publication of The Knitting Guilds Association) for a reference when I looked at the cover and saw that it was the winter 2003/2004 issue. But I didn’t start subscribing to Cast On until I became a TKGA member in April 2007! Suddenly it all came rushing back to me. In 2003 in Cleveland, faced with cold weather and the need to entertain myself while my new husband attended medical school, I picked up knitting needles for the second time in my life, and resolved to re-teach myself to knit.

This attempt may have fizzled out as the first one had, were it not for my amazing discovery: Local Yarn Stores. Whole stores! Selling yarn! I slowly became acquainted with several shops in the area, and at one of these I happened to pick up this copy of Cast On. I think I may have heard about the TKGA Master Knitter program before that, giving a reason for this otherwise unremarkable periodical to catch my eye. But the articles within about being On Your Way to the Masters, they fascinated me. To be recognized as a Master Knitter, that would be a real accomplishment!

I ordered the Master Knitter Level 1 materials in April of 2007 but, as evidenced by this unassuming magazine that’s been sitting on my book shelf in three homes in three states, I’ve wanted to be a Master Knitter much longer than that. Going on 7 years, wow. I sure hope that this is the year to accomplish the first step along the path to that goal, by passing the Level 1 requirements!

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Filed under Knitting, Raising Myself, TKGA Master Hand Knitting