Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Time marches forward, even when we fall back to standard time.

Next week is Thanksgiving, already, again.

Last month was Stitches:

And next week it will be Jane's fifth yarhzeit, making Thanksgiving bittersweet every year.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Coming Soon!

Flo Carlisle at Pisgah Yarn has been working on this project for over a year: a calendar that features exclusive designs using the Pisgah family of products with every penny (yes, every penny) going to support charities.

This has been a major undertaking of contacting designers, co-ordinating photo shoots, printing, fund raising, talking to printers, etc., etc.

She has done a mammoth job, and the calendar will be available this coming week. This will be a limited edition, so get yours while you can!

May is my month: a mother/daughter set. I can't wait to get my hands on it!

Friday, September 10, 2010


Varigated, hand-dyed yarns are beautiful, but they can be tricky to work with: I've found that often the yarn looks one way in the skein, another way when wound in to a ball, and then yet another way when worked up. It's always a surprise, and sometimes not necessarily a good one.

There are different ways of breaking up pooling when you don't want that effect: alternating rows either by working with two different skeins or by working from both ends of the skein; working stripes using a contrasting color; or by working stripes using a contrasting color that is done in garter ridges. The last option has become my favorite: the texture and color of that garter ridge breaks up the pooling and adds visual and tactile interest.

I used this combination in my original swatch for the Garter Ridge Hoodie which is in Petite Purls Back to Basics section:

When I started my 10 in 2010 Shawlette, I found the pooling just terrible, and, falling back on the garter ridge idea, ended up with a shawl that I love:

A very gratifying result that I'll be using again. And again, most likely.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Rebecca's been making donuts:

Yesterday, she brought over plain donuts (which were divine unto themselves) along with chocolate ganache and vanilla glaze so we could dip as desired.

Oh so very good.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Fall Sweater

I recently completed this great little sweater, Eyelet Cardigan from Blue Sky Alpacas:

The yarn was from my stash, and is Peaches & Creme Worsted in one of my favorite colors in this line, Butterscotch.

The temperature needs to drop a few more degrees before this will be comfortable, but I do anticipate several fall days of wearing this.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Or how did knitting patterns for babies become rolling papers?


Am I missing something here?

I got a notice in the mail yesterday from the City of Philadelphia Department of Revenue (Life-Liberty-and You)informing me that their records indicate that my business may be selling tobacco and/or tobacco-related products. If so, I need to be paying taxes on said items or risk a fine of $5,000 plus interest and penalties. I was given a form to fill out, sign and return stating that I don't sell tobacco and/or tobacco-related products. Which I did. Promptly.

I can only hope that this notice is going out to all businesses in the city, and that this isn't the result of someone carefully selecting those who should be paying this tax.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ghosts of Knitting Past

This is a rant.

In the last week, I've been brought face to face with other people's old knitting. And it's not pretty.

Last week, a woman came in to the shop and pulled out patterns from the 1960's. Ok. Vintage knitting is Cool. Vintage knitting is In. But hanging on to old patterns because they're the only ones you knit is not cool, and actually is kind of stupid.

I was being asked to figure out what yarn she needed and how much. The pattern called for x number of balls of a now-defunct yarn that once upon a time came in 2 oz balls. That tells us nothing. However, as I explained to her, the needle size and gauge will help us, along with an in-house cheat-sheet that estimates (key word here: estimates) how much yardage you'll need for a sweater. Size 10 needles/3 stitches to the inch: hmmmm, sounds like bulky yarn to me. (But, the customer says, the photograph of the sweater doesn't look bulky.) Since I can't climb inside your head, dear customer, and see what you're seeing, all I can do is repeat the needle size and gauge and point out that the same (exact same!) needle size and gauge are here, on this yarn label.

She has to think about it.

The next pattern is from a kit that was packaged in the '60's; there is absolutely no mention of what kind of yarn was used. The directions give three different sizes that are based on changing the needle size----it could be fingering (baby) weight yarn, or dk (sport) yarn.

Long story short, she ends up buying worsted weight for the bulky weight pattern (because the photo didn't look bulky), and some fingering for the baby sweater.

I guarantee that she'll be back, and she'll be complaining because things didn't turn out "right".

This is what I'm talking about when I say that knitters need to take responsibility for their knitting: just do it. Try it. Do a gague swatch. Think about what you're doing. But please, don't shift all of the risk and responsibility on to someone you don't know who can't see inside your brain. Come on.

The other incident was being stopped by a neighbor who knows that I knit. She has a project that she's been working on for about four years,and she wants me to look at the directions and tell her what she's doing wrong.

Again, can I really climb inside your brain and figure this out? I don't think so.

So, the bottom line here is: if you want to knit from vintage patterns, do the math yourself---don't spring it on someone who doesn't really know what it is you want and is also trying to help four other people who are actually on the ball. Also, there is absolutely nothing wrong with buying new patterns. It's ok. They're not that expensive (and there are a lot free ones crammed in the tubes, if you want to take the time to

And if you've been working on a project for four or more years, maybe it's time to frog it or just put it in the trash and start fresh. If you can't remember what you were doing when you put this weird piece of crap down, why do you think that my brain is somehow more magic than yours and I'll know what you were thinking and doing four years ago?

Ok. Rant done.

Friday, May 7, 2010

I Won

It took me a couple of attempts and a lot of knitting math, but I have achieved what I wanted:

Say hello to the Alcott Shawl.

It's worked from the edging up to the neck which means that all the heavy knitting and thinking happens in the cast on and first 20-some rows. Then it's knitting and decreasing until the neck.

The pattern is available for sale and download in my Ravelry store.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Challenge

Now that I can do a simple top-down triangle shawl without thinking very hard about it, I've decided, for some reason, that I need to do a half-circle shawl with a 20-row-repeat lace edging from the bottom up (because I really don't like picking up edging and this particular one works from the bottom up).

I'm working on my third attempt after casting on about six times (6x300+ stitches = mental meltdown). I did have a stunning aha! moment yesterday when I realized that my life would be much easier if I put stitch markers at every pattern repeat so that I only have to rip out twenty stitches at a time. But that didn't stop me from screwing up row 7 so badly that I unraveled (the shawl and myself) and cast on again.

And I still haven't figured out why I have to do this: it's as if there's a big knitting exam coming up and I have get an A. I'm alternating between being pleased that I've tackled this and thinking what the hell is wrong with me?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Mr. Monkey

Mr. Monkey got attacked by a dog and needs the side of his head replaced. He also needs a new ear and a little more stuffing.

But he's still smiling.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Oh Dear

It looks as if my ambitious Barbara Walker project is on hiatus (I'd say hibernating but we're coming out of winter----maybe it's on Spring break in Fort Lauderdale?). In any case, I've not been keeping up with that or with updating here. Not that I've been inundated with comments and emails asking me where I am and how much my swatches have been missed.

Last month I started working two days a week at Loop. It's a wonderful, gorgeous store filled with wonderful, gorgeous yarn, laid out beautifully (a friend of mine refers to Loop as The Museum of Yarn). My boss and co-worker are great also, making the adjustment to my first outside-the-house job in 25+ years pretty smooth.

From my two days of work, I then go directly to my day of teaching the blind at ASB; I'm still figuring out how to both rest, catch up, and continue with my own work over the next days until it's time to start again.

Yes, I know I used to do this work thing, but after so many years of having the kids and their school years and then my own craft show schedule determine the rhythm of my work, it is taking a bit of adjusting.

I'm working on a store sample for Loop right now, using Zara, and the interesting thing is how much the yardage varies from ball to ball. Since I'm working in stripes, you'd think that one ball would work up the same number of rows as the next, but that's not the case. I'm a little nervous, because I'm not sure how this is going to turn out. Maybe they (the manufacturers) need to check their measuring machine. That aside, Zara is very nice to work with: smooth, quick, nice hand, great finished fabric. There is a slight tendency to split now and then--not badly, just something to keep an eye on.

And as soon as I have this finished, I'll be able to work out the sample and write the pattern for the latest design I've done for Valley Yarns. I'm really looking foward to working this one up. And maybe the Barbara Walker project will get back on track.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

BW: Banded Insertion

Very interesting stitch pattern to play with: bands of garter stitch are worked using needles appropriate for the yarn, and then two rows of Stockinette stitch are worked using needles 4 to 5 sizes larger. How much size differences there is between the needles makes the lacey part more open or more subtle:

I consistently used a size 5 needle for the garter bands, but experimented with different needles for the inserts. The bottom three inserts are worked with a size 11 needle; the next three are worked with a 10.5; and the last three are worked with a 10. The largest size begins to look almost like a drop-stitch as the loops are so long. This has me thinking that I'll try it with a 5 and a 13 and see what happens. Many, many possibilities.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

BW: Three Stitches

Having been lax this week, I'm making up for lost time by posting three stitches today:
Waving Rib Pattern, Quaker Ridging, and Wager Welt.

First, the Waving Rib Pattern:

I worked this swatch in Valley Yarn's Goshen, a blend of Peruvian Cotton, Modal, and Silk, on a size 7 needle. The purl stitches pull the rib from side to side which gives the stitch its visual wave. As a bonus, the back side appears as a basketweave stitch:

Next, I did Quaker Ridging, using Wick from Knit One Crochet Too, again on a size 7 needle:

As this particular pattern begins with a few rows of Stockinette stitch, there is major curling at the bottom edge.

This, as Barbara Walker points out, is a highly adaptable pattern, as you can, at will, change up the width of the ridges as you like.

And finally, I worked the Wager Welt, which is an 8-row repeat that uses only one row of Purl (!). Very neat:

Knit Picks Comfy, a very soft cotton/acrylic blend, was used here.

Working on all these stitches is making the design-pistons in my brain begin to fire up again, or maybe it's the January thaw that's starting to happen.

There was a big, fat robin in our side yard yesterday, digging in the leaves for something.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

BW: Escalator Pattern and a Couple of Books

This 24-Row repeat required concentration (and probably, on a real project, a row counter), but the end result is very interesting. I want to try this as a two-color slip-stitch----don't know if it's possible but I really want to try it and see if it works.

Escalator Pattern:

Meanwhile, it is still very cold. Not fun. I walked over to the library yesterday afternoon and even though I was wearing my winter coat (with a hood), a very warm knitted stole as a scarf and a pair of wool, handknit socks, I felt as if I had strolled outside in a summer outfit.

Last week, I finished reading AS Byatt's new book, The Children's Book. Very interesting, very multi-layered characters and plots. It takes place in late Victorian-Edwardian England, and gives a fascinating look at the cultural, artistic and social trends of the times through the lives of the characters. I highly recommend it. I also recommend Christopher Lukas' Blue Genes, a memoir and examination of familial depression, secrets and suicide, and how we never really get out from under what happened to and around us in our childhoods (and don't I know that). Good reads for when you're not knitting (or even while you're knitting).

Friday, January 8, 2010

BW: Ripple Rib Stitch

So, did we really think that I was going to knit a swatch and post every day? I did the swatch yesterday and got around to photographing and posting to day.

Here is the Ripple Rib Stitch:

I don't care too much for how this stitch looks; I much prefer the horizontal Ripple Stitch. Thank goodness there are so many combinations of knit and purl; I don't have to pick a favorite or like every one that I make.

And a digression: just found out that the Pink Rose Pastry Shop closed. This was the best place for breakfast, with excellenet La Colombe coffee and a two eggs/toast/home fries special for $2.50. For a couple of years, I met Allie here once a week for breakfast and to catch up with each other, and since she's moved across town, I've been going by myself, once a week, enjoying DeWitt's singing, Sherman's cooking and seeing the regulars.

I am bereft.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

BW: Ripple Stitch

So while the soup simmers and before I make the Caraway Irish Soda Bread on this, yet another frigging cold day, I thought I'd get today's swatch up: Ripple Stitch:

Purls on Stockinette Stitch create waves across the fabric; attention needs to be paid to where you are in this ten-row repeat. This is a flat fabric that looks the same on both sides (one side's purls are the other side's knits).

Now I can go finish the Little Red cape I'm making for Maggie.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

BW: Roman Stitch

Confession time: usually when I turn to BW for stitch inspiration, I tend to skip over the first part (Simple Knit-Purl Combinations) that I'm working on now. I do this because the little black and white photos of the stitches aren't that inspiring to me (sorry). But now that I am making myself work each stitch, I'm finding real gems in those ho-hum photos. Yes, they're simple combinations, and no, I kind of ignored them, and yes, I'm humbled.

Anyway, today's stich is the Roman Stitch:

Rows (or stripes) of Stockinette Stitch alternated with rows (or stripes) of Seed Stitch, simple but elegant.

The upper part of the swatch if the Roman Rib Stitch where two rows of Seed Stitch are worked and then the next two rows of Seed Stitch are staggered over the previous one. Again, simple but elegant.

Monday, January 4, 2010

BW: Broken Rib

The first thing I do in the morning now, workwise, is my Barbara Walker swatch. I'm not putting it off to later in the day because I know that the chances of being side-tracked increase with every hour that I'm awake.

Today, my swatch is Broken Rib (bottom) and Double Broken Rib (top):

The Broken Rib is worked on an odd number of stitches with a two-row repeat, very easy and meditative to work. The Double Broken Rib is worked over a mulyiple of 4 plus 2 and has a four-row repeat; it takes a bit more concentration to set it up but is then easy to "read" the fabric.

Not as elastic as a k1, p1 rib with a little curl at the edges, the back can easily be the "public side":

I love the Double Broken Rib.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

BW: Sand Stitch

Continuing with "Simple Knit-Purl Combinations", I've done a swatch of Sand Stitch:

This is worked on an even number of stitches and is essentially Seed Stitch where the two rows of that pattern are alternated with rows of knit. I suppose you could work on an uneven number of stitches so then your pattern would be knit one row, seed stitch one row. In any case, the fabric is textured and lays flat.

The reverse side of Sand Stitch is called Dot Stitch or Spot Stitch:

Still flat, still textured but the purl stitches are more distinct.

As I'm working on this post, we're experiencing the beginnings of a real arctic cold snap: the air temp is in the low 20's and the windchill, as reported on the radio, is 3. They're promising it to be like this for the rest of the week. And oh, how the wind is howling through the magnolia in the back yard!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

BW: Seed Stitch & Moss Stitch

Continuing with "Simple Knit-Purl Combinations", I've done a swatch of (bottom to top) Seed Stitch, Moss Stitch, and Double Seed Stitch, page 11.

As per Barbara Walker, Seed Stitch is worked on an even number of stitches over two rows, Row 1 beginning with a knit, Row 2 beginning with a purl. This ensures that every knit stitch is above a purl stitch and vice versa. However, in our teaching blind and visually impaired knitters, we have Seed Stitch worked on an uneven number of stitches so that the pattern is now a one-row pattern, always beginning with a knit stitch: much easier for them to memorize and not have to try and figure which row they're on. In any case, the resulting fabric is firm and flat and the same on both sides.

Moss Stitch, worked on an even number of stitches, is worked over four rows: essentially a k1, p1 rib for two rows that changes to p1, k1 rib for two rows. While still flat and reversible, it pulls in a smidge more than the Seed Stitch.

Double Seed is worked on a multiple of 4 stitches over four rows. This breaks down to a k2, p2 rib for two rows that changes to p2, k2 rib for two rows. The texture is very defined, and the fabric is flat and reversible.

All three of these stitches are good for borders, as they off-set the curling of Stockinette Stitch.

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Barbara Walker Project: Stockinette & Garter Stitch

Happy New Year.

I have begun my Barbara Walker Project, and here is the first swatch:

I worked this with Peaches & Creme on size 7 needles to a gauge of 16 sts/24 rows over Stockinette Stitch, and am showing the swatch unblocked so that the attributes of each stitch are apparent. These stitches can be found on page 10 of A Treasury of Knitting Patterns.

From top to bottom: Garter Stitch which is knit every row. The fabric lays flat and is wider than the lower bands of the swatch.

Below that is the Stockinette Stitch, Twisted which is created by knitting through the back loop on the right side and purling through the back loop on the wrong side. This creates tight, well-defined columns, and the fabric pulls on the bias. The edges curl, but not as much as regular Stockinette Stitch.

The Stockinette Stitch, Crossed is next and is created by knitting through the back loop on the right side and purling in the usual way on the wrong side. The fabric pulls a little on the bias, and the edges curl some.

And at the bottom is Stockinette Stitch which is knit on the right side, purl on the wrong side. The fabric is softer and not as firm as the variations, the stitch columns are vertical (not on the bias), and the edges really curl.

This swatch was worked flat on straight needles. If I were to work these stitches in the round, Garter Stitch would be knit one round, purl one round; Stockinette Stitch would be knit every round; Stockinette Stitch, Twisted would be knit through the back loop, knitting every round; and Stockinette Stitch, Crossed would be alternating one round knit through the back loop with one round knit as usual.