Monthly Archives: October 2010

Inspired by the season

Last year I purchased a skein of yarn at my LYS – local yarn store – 88 Stitches.  I was inspired by it because it reminded me of the autumn colours you see back east at this time of year. 

I didn’t have any particular pattern  in mind, or even a thought about what kind of an item I would want to knit up.  I just loved the colours. 

I started knitting a pair of socks, but stopped because the yarn just striped and I wasn’t looking for a pair of striped socks. Ripped it out. 

So I tried something else.  I started a scarf from which uses a dropped stitch pattern and blocks of knitting and purling.  The end product looked woven.  It would be a lovely scarf/wrap in any other yarn.  But this one just wasn’t working.  It sat there in my UFO box. 

On Sunday, inspired by the fact that I no longer had to focus on getting those items completed for the sale, I was FREE to play and imagine new things.  So I headed to my studio and took out some fun yarns I have had on the back burner.  I had this small ball of lovely merino left over from a pair of socks I made.  I wanted to try the Feather and Fan Lace pattern, so grabbed that yarn to do a test swatch.

Feather and Fan Lace:  works on multiples of 18 stitches

Row 1:  Knit
Row 2: Purl
Row 3:  K2tog – 3 times, YO knit 1 – 6 times, k2tog – 3 times.  Repeat across the row.
Row 4: Knit

Repeat these four rows for the pattern.

A variation of the patterns adds a stitch at the beginning and the end – so it is 18 stitches plus 2.  Knit the first and last stitch on row three.

Here’s what it looks like. 

Not only was it easy to knit, I loved what was happening with the colours.  They weren’t striping, they were pooling.  That’s exactly what I wanted the Fall Coloured yarn to do, but hadn’t yet found a way to do this. 

This one was pooling in two distinct columns, which is kind of pretty, but not what I had in mind for the Fall yarn.

I ripped out the dropped lace scarf and was secretly happy because I could reclaim all my abalone stitch markers.  Re-wound the ball — and dug up some slightly larger needles than the ones I used on the test swatch.  For that I used 3mm.  I grabbed the 4mm, cast on 38 stitches and started knitting.  In a very short while I realized I had found what I was looking for.  It’s really hard to imagine how happy this made me — so happy in fact I tried to share my enthusiasm with sleeping hubby.  Got a much better reception from the gals at work the next day. 

Here it is.  It is what I envisioned — it looks like an eastern forest in mid October.  The golds, oranges and reds are at their height causing the dark greens from the evergreens to stand out. 

The rocks on the windowsill say it all.

Countdown update

I made it. 

I managed to get 20 items over to Sally’s house for jurying for the guild sale.  Jurying started at 9:30 — I dropped the stuff off at 9:30 am. 

Last Sunday I finished knitting the baby sweater.  During the week I wove in all the loose ends, and wow, there were a lot of them.  Desperate to make it interesting, I changed the yarns and colours several time.  See, you pay a price for art.  Then I stitched up the only two seams needed — it’s truly an amazing pattern.  You make a baby/toddler sweater by knitting one huge piece.  You fold it up, sew up two seams and you have a sweater.  Go to this link and see Stephanie Pearl-McPhee aka The Yarn Harlot — write about her first experience making on.  Great photos too. 
Sweater done.  Item number 18. 

Check.

On Tuesday, on the way into the city, I brought the lace hat along and knit that up.  Wow, that went fast.  By the end of the day, the ride home, I was binding it off and looking around for something else to distract me for the rest of the ride. 

Lace hat done.  Item number 19. 

Check.

The rest of the week was a bust because of late meetings and other obligations — like life. So I kept staring at the bag that contained one 1/2 mitten –sans thumb, and the nearly complete cuff of the second mitten.  The pattern is the Vancouver Specials, but knit on size 3mm needles, with fingering weight hand spun.  I cast on 44 stitches.  So there’s way more knitting on this one than on the 5mm one with 24 stitches. 

I was just about to admit defeat of my own self imposed deadline, and even thought about going into my “completed knitting items box” to find something else to put into the sale, when I had a burst of refusal.

So on Friday am, I was knitting the second 1/2 mitten on the car/bus/train into town — and trying to figure out how I would get the rest done. Thanks (?) to an over abundancy of traffic and other delays, I was binding off by the time I reached my Main Street Science World stop, and tucked it into my bag thinking that things were looking good. 

I knit the thumbs on both mittens in an interlude between my 11am meeting and my 2pm meeting.  And no, I didn’t rush the end of the 11am meeting just so I could have more knitting time.  How could you think that?

Inspired by the fact that these items were 90% done, I wove in the loose ends during a break in my 2 – 4:30pm meeting. 

1/2 mitts done.  Item number 20. 

Check.

DONE.  Big high five. 

No one else in the room cared — or even knew what I was celebrating.

Came home and washed the mittens.  You really have to do that, especially with hand spun yarn.  Any thing I knit looks so much better after a good wash and blocking.  So that is another thing you have to build into your “completion plan”.  Anyway, got it done.  They looked great.  Put the labels on them and got them into the box.  In my enthusiasm to get this all done, I didn’t take ANY pictures.  So I will take some at the sale so you will know I am not making all of this up.

Really, how could and why would anyone make any of this stuff up?

Countdown is on. . . . 6 days to go

While I do want to spend my time sourcing new fibres and visiting fibre farms in my 100-mile (160 km)radius, I have more pressing business at hand.  In a mere six days, I have to have all the items that I want to sell at the Langley Weavers and Spinners Guild Annual Artisans’ Sale: Beyond Fibre ready for jurying.

Yes, jurying.

It’s what guilds do.  As a guild we have a set of Standards for each of the areas that we specialize in:  weaving, spinning, knitting, felting and dyeing.  Any guild member in good standing (having paid their annual dues) can sell things at our annual sale.  It’s a terrific deal.  This sale is known far and wide, has a long history — over twenty years — and is two days long.  People come to buy our guild members’ items and for the amazing things that all the other artisans produce.  And best of all, guild members don’t have to pay a commission on the stuff they sell.  How’s that for a good deal?

So a while back, after missing about five sales in a row, I set a goal for myself.  This year I would submit 12 items to the sale.  That means that I have to have them all ready and labelled for the second last weekend in October. 

Jury members will spend an entire day looking over our finished objects to make sure they meet the Standards established by the guild.  It’s a good process and it lets the general public know that they aren’t buying junk.  The mittens are the same size; socks have no gaping holes from the join-ins; hats will fit a head; woven tea towels are a standard “tea towel” size; and so forth.  It feels a bit intimidating to have folks examine your finished objects with such scrutiny, but they aren’t doing it to be nasty.  They do it to ensure that the Standards established by our guild are adhered to.  As I wrote earlier, that is what guilds do.  That is the way that we make sure the art and craft of weaving, spinning, knitting, felting and dyeing have room to grow and evolve, while at the same time, keep the craft alive and well.  If your items pass jurying, they can be sold in the sale.  If there is a problem with an item, a jury member will contact you and if possible, give you a chance to repair, replace, fix the problem so it can be put into the sale. 

So right now, thanks to hats and 1/2 mittens, I have 17 finished items for the sale.  (Yippee, that’s five over my goal!!) I also have three UFO’s.  A lace hat, a baby sweater and a pair of half mitts on size 3mm needles (what was I thinking?).  I need to spin up a bit more yarn to finish off the sweater, it’s really only three rows from knitting completion.  Then there is the sewing up, attaching buttons, and weaving in all the loose ends.  The lace hat just needs a few more hours and I can do that on my commute to the city/work next week.  One day should do the trick.  The mitts may take longer.  I have one finished, will see how far I can get on my commute. Will have to resist the 24-Hour crossword and get the job done.  Below is the Baby Surprise Jacket in progress.

Fingers crossed that I can get these last three done and have 20 items in the sale and PASSED by the Standard and Jurying Committee.