For summer knitting, they are hard to beat. They are a very portable project. They can be done in a variety of yarns and don’t take much yarn. [I’ve done a couple with approximately 100 yards each. Is that light bulb in your head going- - flashing “Stashbuster, stashbuster!!!”? Yessiree! I’ve seen them made from heavy weight yarns, worsted weight, dk weight, and sock yarn doubled. [ so if any of you have an addiction problem concerning sock yarn in your stash — though truthfully, many credible knitters assert that sock yarn absolutely doesn’t count as stash.] Cowls can fit loosely or more snugly, however one prefers. They can be a delightful and/or colorful fashion accessory or a cozy way to keep your neck warm in the fall and winter, and they stay in place unlike some snarky scarves.
Now, if you’ve put the S back in the front of Cowls and are scowling because you really want to see some of these cowls before you venture forth, here are some clues[I’m actually overjoyed to offer some clues because too many days, I just feel clueless]:
In this photo, Marilyn is wearing the Dolores Park Cowl that she knit out of one skein of a worsted weight yarn:
Well, I do seem to be stuck on sssssssssses. They say that “cowls are the new scarves.” And if you move that s one more time . . . in front of _erendipity, you’ll find that cowls are a good example of that.*
* serendipity - happening upon fortunate discoveries when not in search of them]]>
Our real reason for traipsing to the Detroit suburbs was to attend the second annual Knit Michigan. This event is a fundraiser for cancer-related organizations throughout Michigan. Knitting “marathoners” collect sponsors and attend to take classes, shop at vendors’ booths, and commune in a fibery manner.
We arrived at the venue on Friday evening to set up our booth. The allotted 45 minutes passed lickety-split, but we managed to create a 10-foot square tent replica of the brick-and-steel City Knitting we’d left back in Grand Rapids. That night we whip-stitched the final letters to our one hundred percent hand-made shop banner (now hanging on the wall in the shop, because we know you need to see it!), spread out our blankies, and crashed for a short sleep.
Back at Knit Michigan by 8 am Saturday, we knew the real fun was beginning. Lorilee was among many instructors who volunteered their time to teach classes, while others staffed the booths and tried to accomplish transactions the old-fashioned way: without a computer! Imagine an elementary school gymnasium full of knitters and spinners. I’d be hard-pressed to find a friendlier atmosphere.
Two experiences highlight my day at Knit Michigan:
1. Watching Kristin H (our token marathoner) traipse about in her self-designed knit dress and our designer Lyra hat, making friends with everyone within a 1000-foot radius.
2. Bringing over 100 home-made hats from all of you out there, to donate to the participating organizations. And an added bonus: the organizers sent us right back home with a big box of hats to give to Lacks Cancer Center, here in our very own neighborhood.
Finally, a Big Thank You to all who donated hats for us to take to the event. And mark your calendar for the first Saturday in February 2009. We plan to be there again, and we’d love to see your faces in the crowd.]]>
This month, using a Judith Shangold sweater pattern, I set out to use up some of the scraps of yarn in the City Knitting yarn stash in the back room. I bought a few fine mohairs to hold with the leaner yarns, so I could use just about everything- chunky to fingering weight. By holding some yarns single and combining others, I came up with enough combinations from 50 mini-balls of yarn to make this.
All in all, a very fun, quick knit with warm results.
All in garter stitch. All stripes formed from knitting two rows of a random choice before moving to the next.
I reduced many fair sized skeins to teeny little balls like these.
In making it, I got to relive some fine memories from life at the shop over the past couple years. I’ll share just one. One of my sweater stripes is made from the same furry yarn David W. used to knit a bear to give away. This bear’s round rear end, formed by some clever short row shaping, gave us some laughs that week. We couldn’t resist asking David to show his bear bottom to everyone. (Funnier in the hearing than in the reading.)
Class with Annemor Sunbo: Magical Knitting
Our class results- mine is the cat with curved tail:
Pictured: me, Diane VanderPol, Annemor Sundo, Terry Shea, Sue Nuckolls
Seattle, viewed from the ferry returning from Bainbridge Island yarn shop hopping:
Tibetan Buddhists from all over Central Asia make pilgrimages to this temple.
Right across from the Jokhang is my local version of “City Knitting”
No sorting by gauge here! This is the biggest market for yarn that I have found in Lhasa. Most of it comes from mainland China and IF it has a label with information on it, it’s in Chinese, which is no help to me. You can find decent wool in bright colors (I’m sure it’s great to felt with) and lots of acrylics, which doesn’t really interest me. What I’ve been interested in is yak wool. For those of you not familiar with a yak, here is a mom and her baby:
Yak wool yarn can be bought in the market as well, and comes with even less packaging than the Chinese yarn:
Here I am bargaining for my yak wool, (no fixed prices here- you have to bargain for everything- even in department stores). I am asking if he’s giving me the “foreigner” price or the local price. I hope I landed somewhere in the middle.
On the way home from the market, my husband (who took the photos - thanks!) asked how much I bought. They measure the wool by weight here, not length- so I have no idea how much yarn I bought in length, but that I bought two Jin, which is about a kilo of yarn. Seeing as how I don’t have a specific project in mind yet, I’m not worried about how many yards it is. I’m hoping to dye the wool and knit up and felt a bag. But that’s a whole other blog. Until next time, Tashi Delek!]]>
Note what MayBelle is sporting on her little tootsies. These booties are a pattern in Elizabeth Zimmerman’s The Opinionated Knitter, knit out of Trekking self-striping sock yarn held with kid mohair.
Speaking of Elizabeth Zimmerman, we’ve recently started carrying more of her books, and even we have been surprised at how popular they are. This Surprise Jacket is knit up in the newborn size, now on display at the shop. Three skeins of Katia “Magic” completed the project.
This pattern really is surprising because until the last stitches are bound off, it’s virtually impossible to fold it into a shape that looks like it might fit a child (even once it’s bound off, it’s quite the puzzle). EZ incorporates two sets of button holes into the pattern, so that you can decide at the end if it’s going to be for a boy or a girl. That’s assuming you know on which side buttons belong for boys and girls respectively. Either way, it’s a handy idea because then you know exactly where to sew the buttons to match up with the holes on the other side.
No sooner was the sheep [slightly over-] felted [not that we forgot about him the washing machine], than we took him outside to dry off a little in the sun. But not to worry! Millie the city sheep dog made sure the lambie came to no harm in the big bad parking lot.
Not that it’s sock weather, but I for one can’t resist new sock yarn and an exciting spiral eyelet pattern:
Said yarn is Opal Cotton (Cotton/Virgin Wool/Polyamide blend), in a suave fingering weight. We have it at the shop ($19.95/skein = one pair) in four different colorways, all based on paintings by the artist Hundertwasser. FUN STUFF! The pattern is a free offering from Unicorn Books, originally published in the book
Last week, we reorganized the shop according to gauge! Ruth, Lorilee, and I spent the better part of two days gutting all the shelves and sorting everything knittable from thin to thick, laceweight to chunky. At times, the task got the better of me:
But I prevailed and showed the fiber who’s who:
I’ll admit that at this juncture, most of us who work here are still a little foggy on where, precisely, we’ve placed specific yarns. But the change has already proven to be a good move: Whatever pattern you want to make, we just direct you to the correct gauge department, instead of leading you about the shop in a tedious (though impressive!) recital of which yarns would work. As you wander through the shop, you’ll find the light worsted weight yarns (22-24 st/4″) through to the lighter chunky weight yarns (16 st/4″). In the next room, we come full circle with the lace- and fingering weight yarns meeting up with the super chunkies:
I’m talking serious intention, folks. I started it later that day. First, I went to an office supply store that starts with S . . . just like shawl, huh . . . And I
enlarged the charts that are part of the pattern so I could see the charts easily and take notes about the pattern if I wanted. The pattern, by the way, is in the book Wrap Style, by Pam Allen and Ann Budd, published by Interweave Press. I would like you to think that I accomplished this enlarging task by my own skills but knitting lace requires that we remain grounded in reality. So here’s the first reality check: I was more of an observer, while the store employee punched the buttons on the Xerox machine. Gratitude is a regular part of my knitting process too.
Another reality check: I am a member of SABLE, truth be told. Those letters stand for Stash Accumulated Beyond Life Expectancy. So all I had to do is look in my yarn stash for yarn that might accompany me on this adventure. I used Lisa Souza’s yarn in a fingering weight that’s half merino wool and half silk. Luscious.
I cast on and made my way through the directions, my anxiety at a moderate level, and began the Neck Chart. I knit three or four rows and found myself with stitches left on my left needle . . . and, according to the chart, I shouldn’t have any stitches left. The first time I did this, I just frogged (rip-it, rip-it, croak) the rows and started over. The third time I got to row six or seven before the stitches were not matching the chart. My anxiety level was no longer moderate.
I decided to go to look at Brooklyn Tweed’s website for more inspiration. I read
his blog entries about the shawl and noted that he thought it was a pretty easy pattern and he “had knit it on autopilot.” This statement was not what I’d call encouraging. My experience was more kamikaze than autopilot, I’m afraid. But was I giving up??? Not this stubborn mule.
What next? What would I tell another knitterfriend/customer? Use your resources. So I remembered that Kathy-on-our-staff was an excellent knitter, an excellent teacher, patient and kind, and experienced in knitting lace. So I dragged my almost-round-the-bend self to City Knitting and sat down with Kathy. She confirmed what I knew about chart-reading and gave me an invaluable hint: use a gazillion stitchmarkers! Use more than the pattern calls for without hesitation. Use them to identify pattern repeats. You may have to move them as the shawl increases in size (I did) but they are helpful reference points. And at this stage I
was much more interested in accuracy, having deserted speed many frogs ago. She also confirmed the mistakes in my latest attempt and so the theme music you hear in the background means another trip to the frog pond. But I honestly wasn’t discouraged at this point — I knew I was reading the charts correctly. I have plenty of stitchmarkers in my possession. By now I also knew that I couldn’t do this pattern, for the time being, with the television on, while carrying on any kind of conversation with my friends, at the yarn shop where I’d be interrupted by someone needing to be waited on, or having a glass of wine.
By the time I got two-thirds of the way through the shawl, I could have the television on and still be okay. I mean, I would be okay and more importantly, the shawl would be. If you’re wondering about the other distractions, at this point the answer is no. Is having a shawl that I can take pleasure in and be proud of worth giving up these things? Yes.yes.yes.yes.yes.yes.
So, shawl we dance? Timidly, awkwardly, repeatedly, determinedly, hopefully. Yes.Yes.Yes.21 ]]>