Whoa. Tough one. Even though I work in color all the time, I don't usually think in terms of color. I think I'll flip this one on its ear and give you ten favorite pictures with red in them. Thanks Carole!
1. Of course, since I live in St. Louis, one of my favorite red things might include the St. Louis Cardinals. I don't know if you were paying attention last year, but we had a pretty good season until the end there.
Here we are at a World Series game in St. Louis : my favorite priest, myself and Dear Daughter.
2. We had to win the NLCS to get to the world series, of course, and that was a little more fun!
Hubster and Dear Daughter and yours truly at the NLCS championship game. There are even hand knits.
3. See all the fun?
4. Loved knitting this E. L. F. hat -- inspired by the pattern, but not in fingering weight yarn. Nephew's lucky he got this one... I love it.
5. Our botanical garden did a walk-through holiday event this year. Hot chocolate, roasted marshmallows, and our garden all lit up. It was pretty fun. Cold, but fun.
6. Knit friend Lauren's baby Elodie was born this fall. Knit friend Deborah finished her Dreambird KAL around the same time. I tried this pattern and it kicked my hiney -- **jealous** -- but this picture is a lovely one and it's got red in it... ; )
7. Dear friend Sr. Rosemary moved away from us this summer -- we had a party in the back yard to send her off in style. Rosemary and I were altos together in the church choir. She's moved on to teach high-school math elsewhere in Missouri. I miss her.
8. Knit alongs figure pretty large in my life right now -- I run them for two days a week and field questions about them the rest of the time... and I love doing them. One of my favorites so far has been the Rockefeller. 32 women and I knit this scarf together. My knitters ranged from beginner (Rockefeller was her first finished project) to this very experienced lady. Isn't she gorgeous?!
9. Our trip to Kiawah this summer finally resulted in my getting to go to Husk! Reservations at this award-winning restaurant had eluded me until this trip. I forget what I ate by now, but the dinner was lovely and I got to share it with family and visiting friends. Fr. John again... and Fr. Stephen who visited us in Kiawah, and Hubster, Daughter and Dear Brother-in-Law. So fun! Fr. Stephen and I are wearing red, see?
10. Not red, but orange, I guess, but my favorite selfie of the year. Here are Dear Daughter, myself, and Grandpa visiting Kennedy Space Center -- we took Granny and Grandpa to see Hubster's project there. What a grand trip it was, getting to share that marvelous venue with family.
It's good for me because Pumpkin Ale is in a good place. I've finished the back and the fronts and now all I have to do is pick up sleeves and finish the pockets. That's a good place.
As of last Thursday at this time, my knit along, which has the capacity for 30 people over two time slots was a little more than half full and slated to start on Saturday.
Enter, again, the cold weather and by Saturday morning, the Saturday session was full and the Wednesday session was more than half so.
So, this cold is good for something, and that something is this: people want to stay inside and knit. Yay me.
As much as I've fought with this sweater, and I have fought with it, it's turning out nicely.
Problem the first, the directions for sizing are a little confounding, but something I learned in New York last month made me pretty confident in choosing a size and I've nailed it. Anne Hanson talked about fit in her sweater class and she contends that the between the shoulder measurement is key to fitting an unstructured sweater such as this one, not necessarily the bust measurement. I tend to agree. Sizing of this piece can be adjusted across the bust if necessary, but the across-the-shoulder measurement is something that's fixed.
That said, the pattern does not provide that measurement, only the slightly vague instruction that the sweater fits specific bust numbers with an inch or so of overlap and that the model is worn with one inch of ease. Yuck.
The good news is that the first 32 rows of the back are only slightly (like 8 stitches) smaller than the piece will be at the top. So, knit the first 32 rows, steam it, hold it up between your shoulder blades, and voila... Well. That worked for me.
And it's why I knit these pieces ahead of time ... so that I can start participants on the right road fit wise from the start. No one likes to spin her knitting wheels, so to speak, and I think that's why folks take these classes. I spin my wheels ahead of time so you don't have to. Worth the $40 I think...
Back to the sweater. I love Ysolda Teague's patterns and design sense. This piece is nicely tailored and fitted across the back, where I actually have a waist, and not too fitted across the front. Perfect.
The table top does not possess my curves, so you can see the amount of shaping knit into the garment. Hangs pretty nicely unblocked. Blocked, it will be perfect.
My Saturday students have had some trouble with the charts. Many want to write the charts out word for word, row for row, which is fine for now. My goal is, over the next several weeks, to get them to see that the charts help them keep the cables on track visually. I think that some of the techniques alone overwhelm relatively new knitters, so add to that the new skill of translating a chart into stitches, and they balk. Also, I think some folks are more comfortable with words than images. Myself, I get lost in that alphabet soup, so I chart everything. I think it's my job to teach them both ways and then let them choose a preference from the position of experience. But some come kicking and screaming... ; )
With this sweater at a stopping point for now, I think I'll pick up some Olympic knitting. Yeah, yeah, I know. I'm supposed to call it 'Ravellenic'. Well I'm not. Come get me, IOC.
I'm not really playing by the rules as I did not wait until tonight to cast on... Sue me. I had a snow day at home yesterday and I used it to knit the first two charts of the center motif on the Dahlia Cardigan from Interweave. This is some old hand spun wool and silk. I think I spun it after my hip replacement but I can't remember. Those of you who saw me after my hip replacement know why I can't remember.
It's some combination of Hello Yarn and Spunky Eclectic club fibers, but that's as far as I know. And it's 16 ounces of fingering to light sport weight yarn. A lot. I must have been spinning like crazy. It shades through hot and cool greens, tans, navy and sky blues. Perfect for spring. Which I'm sure will be cold with the winter we are having.
Anyhoo, I think that Dahlia will be the spring/summer knit along. And being a step ahead of that game might mean that I can offer two sweater knit alongs at the same time -- one easier and one harder. It's a plan, anyway.
Wow. This one takes a little self editing... a little filtering if you wish. Otherwise... t.m.i.
1. I am a wife. I think I'll start with a hierarchical approach, with relationships. First and foremost, I am a wife. Hubster and I committed to each other nearly 29 years ago and we proceeded to grow up together. We've worked together and striven to be the people, the couple, and the family we are. I think he'd agree that we come first with each other so that together we can put our family first.
2. I am a mother. Even though my kids are 16 and 20, there is barely an hour in any day that goes by that they don't occupy my thoughts or actions or both. For me, that is as it should be.
3. I am the member of a large extended family. Not only did being the oldest child of 6 affect my personality (bossy and commandeering much?), the ongoing relationships with adult sibs, their kids, in-laws, their kids, cousins, etc. affect the way I see and interact with the world. Nearly every storm, every breaking news story, every internet incident affects someone in my family. You've heard of 6 degrees of separation? Really, there are only 2.
4. I am a friend. I have the great fortune to have collected a powerfully wonderful group of friends over the years -- through knitting, church, reading, teaching. I am blessed with lovely counselors, listeners, laughers, drinkers of coffee ...
5. I am a knitter.
6. I am a foodie. I love to cook. I love to analyze ingredients. I like to taste pairings of wine with food. I like to contemplate and extrapolate cooking techniques. I like to share food with family and friends. Sharp knives are a pet peeve.
7. I am a dog person. I've owned cats, and they were fine, but when I got my first dog, I figured out my true animal love. My dogs are big and demanding and funny and more like children to me than pets. Both are sleeping at my feet as I type this morning, warm and whiffy.
8. I am a reader of preposterous romance novel junk. Well, the books are not all junk, some of them are super funny and smart -- have you read any Susan Elizabeth Phillips or Jeanne Frost? Otherwise? Mostly crap. I've read or listened to 12 books since January 1. See number 5 -- I was on a deadline. That's a lot.
9. I am a teacher. It seems no matter where I fall in my adult life, I am a teacher. I spent 13 years teaching English, French, and Speech to high school students. When I began to stay home 16 years ago, it wasn't 4 years and I was teaching knitting at Janine's, then working at Hearthstone Knits, and now at Knitorious, teaching knitting. It's in my nature. I instruct. See number three.
10. Wait ... I am more than 10 things. I thought I'd have a hard time coming up with 10. Squished into this last slot? I am a Catholic. I am a musician. I am a Liberal. I am a cusser. I am a True Blood/True Detective/Shameless/Homeland/Newsroom/Downton Abbey/Sherlock/Deadwood/Sopranos junkie. I am a sentimentalist. I am an ENFP. I am a Leo born in the year of the Tiger.
It'll be interesting to see the clicks I get on my knitting blog using that title...
We watched, of course, and since the sweater I'm working on doesn't photograph well right now as it is knit all in one piece on on needles that, even at the end of the row, have it looking like a purple variegated amoeba, I'll talk football.
Well, football on television and the food choices and advertising that ensue.
We watched quietly at home last night. No party. I made the Pioneer Woman Cooks White Chili with store bought roasted chicken and fresh guacamole. This is my favorite recipe for white chili and you can go as 'from scratch' as you want to. I did take the meat off the bones of my store bought chicken and make my own chicken stock but I used canned beans which cuts cooking time.
But enough about the food. What about the ads?! I was underwhelmed. Mostly, it seemed to me, Fox affiliate tv and movie promos and cars with a few good ones interspersed. We had one LOL the whole evening: the online car purchasing ad where everyone is clapping and the dad lets the kid fall off his bike while he claps. Slapstick humor always gets me.
Under normal circumstances, the Budweiser ad with the puppy and the scary Clydesdale enforcers would have been well placed -- at the end of an exciting game with everyone hanging on the edge of their recliners watching the outcome of a close game. Not so much last night. In fact I saw tweets and FB posts wondering when the ad would play so they could turn off their TVs and go to bed... ironic as it implies that they'd already seen it. What, they just wanted to see it live?
But the stand out ad of the evening, of course, was the Coke ad where at least seven different singers using seven languages performed America the Beautiful. Also contained in the ad, although I missed it at the time, were gay parents skating with their daughter.
Well. The internet exploded, of course.
And, just ask my husband, I totally called it as the ad played live... "This ad is going to make the internet explode," I said. My favorite explosion has to do with one hater switching now from Coke to Dr. Pepper because "he always liked that stuff better anyway." The irony, it burns. I'll wait here while you google this: What company distributes Dr. Pepper?
Oh. Wait. There was a football game, wasn't there. It was kind sad. Hubster observes that Peyton Manning completed the most successful passes ever in a Super Bowl last night and yet his team lost in a spectacular fashion. Shows to go ya.
I always forget to do these posts ahead of time and Tuesdays are so busy for me, but Carole of Carole Knits is so faithful about providing topics. This one resonates with me, I mean look at the title of this blog, so I'll make a run at it. Because, even though we are having a helluva winter here in St. Louis, I kind of love it.
Here's the thing about winter: do we like these things because of winter or do we like winter because of these things. A conundrum.
Another thing about winter: we love to hate it around here. I'm glad to have the chance to think positively about this season and embrace it rather than wish it away.
10 Things I Like About Winter
I like sweaters. All kinds. Sweaters are mostly to wear in winter. 'Nuff said.
I like knitting sweaters, and I like knitting wool or wool blend sweaters, which are hot to have in your lap during the warmer months.
I like watching snow fall. In recent years we haven't had much of that, but this year, we've had our share. Super pretty mornings and evenings in the addition with all those windows, a fireplace, a warm floor, and snow falling outside.
I like the Christmas season and that falls in winter.
I like using my crock pot. I don't have nearly as many summer recipes for it as I do winter ones; you know lighter, more fragile foods aren't too happy to be cooked for hours on end. Come summer, I'll be sick of crock pot foods, but right now, they hit the spot. It's a chicken/egg thing, I know.
I like mittens.
I like the colors of winter -- bright blue sky and dark brown bare trees and bright white clouds or snow. I like those colors together. Tangential to this one is that the quality of light and the angle of the sun in the winter make for beautiful sunsets.
This lovely cold weather mitigates somewhat my personal summers. TMI.
This time of year I seem to be ready for long dark evenings. And we sure get those. See numbers 2 and 3.
Finally, this time of winter, January and February, means routine. I like routine. Kids are at school, I have a regular schedule with few interruptions. I get lots done in winter.
My trip to New York last weekend was great fun. I took knitting classes from several of the big guns in the business: Amy Detjen; Anne Hanson; John Brinegar; Candace Eisner-Strick; Louisa Harding; Lucy Neatby, Norah Gaughan. I know, right? If you haven't traveled to one of these conferences or taken a class at your LYS that focuses on a technique or a specific garment, you should. I don't say that because I teach those classes at my LYS, but because there is so much to learn about our craft from our peers and mentors. Getting off of your sofa will improve your craft. No matter whether I'm teaching the class or taking it, I always acquire a nugget of information that I didn't have before.
And, who's kidding whom? There is always shopping at these things and the shopping is good. In fact, I bought a sweater's worth of Neighborhood Fiber Co.'s Studio Worsted in Old Towne East, a colorway inspired by my hometown, Columbus OH, as it turns out. Who knew? I couldn't get a good picture of the baltic blue colorway, so I've left it up to the professionals. Pretty yummy and a yarn I hadn't had in my hands before now. We'll see what it wants to be.
The other thing about these conferences is that we are among our people. No one's eyes glaze over when you start to talk ply or button holes or mattress stitch or lace needles. And everyone is petting everyone. Well, everyone's knit wear. Even in the elevator, which freaks the muggles way the heck out.
Attending VKL energizes me and gets me thinking about new classes to offer and about how to get customers excited about knitting and crochet. Look around in your area for a fiber event to attend. You won't regret it.
Stepping down off one soapbox and up onto another...
I'm several (read 20 or so) rows away from finishing the back of the winter knit along sweater, Pumpkin Ale. I'm using Ella Rae Lace Merino worsted and I'm about a week into the knitting.
I looked at the errata, of which there are relatively few, and boy am I glad I did. Rather than 33 rows after the final increase, there should be 53 in my size. Would have been hard squishing those sleeves into armscyes that were 4o rows (there is a front and a back to an armscye) too short. Something I'll make sure and note for those taking the class.
Again with the variegated and the cables. This level of color variation is just this side of too much, I think, but it only obscures the cables a little and adds visual interest I think. And I'm loving the process -- yarn, cables, squooshiness. Except for the part where all the cables are surrounded by garter stitch rather than reverse stockinette and I keep messing that up and having to drop back to fix it because I can't let stuff like that just be and then I'm fixing garter stitch which I hate. Whew.
An aside: do you associate projects with the books or shows you were listening to or watching while you worked on them? This sweater back is the third season of Homeland.
There is no schematic for the back panel of this sweater. I'd like one, though. It's a pretty big chunk of knitting, and the shape of the thing is not precisely the shape of a traditional cardigan back -- not as wide. I like benchmarks and I'm an obsessive schematic checker.
I did figure out from pictures and drawings of the thing that the back, after the final increases, should be the full width between my shoulders. It is, thankfully, and this is a benchmark I'll share with my students. I've also got a gauge the thing should be in this cable stitch, although that information is only necessary for the back as the rest of the sweater is knit in stockinette. Still... benchmarks and obsessive measuring are good, right? I even steamed the thing while it was still on the needles and measured. I know.
Today, I should get to picking up the sides of this panel to start on the fronts. I should get to it because the 16 year old has taken my car to school for the day and I'm stuck here in the house with the rest of season three of Homeland. Not a bad thing, actually.
A quick FO. Last week, before I cast on for Pumpkin Ale, or more precisely, instead of casting on for Pumpkin Ale as I should have been doing, I cast on a quick Viajante.
Jeez, Alex Klein. And I'm such a lemming.
It's a quick knit, easy to read and work on, kind of a weird finished shape, and mine is small as I didn't have that much of this red yarn. But it's warm and cozy and not too too much.
And just in case you worried that I haven't gone too crazy in the knitting color choice lately with all these muted grays and purples and reds, here you go. Put on your sun glasses, baby, because you can see this thing from space.
A watermelon and bright green Rockefeller for the middle of winter. It makes me happy. Don't judge.
I leave for Vogue Knitting Live in NYC later this morning. I'm taking 7 classes and 2 lectures. Whirlwind of knitting fun and hanging with knitting peeps on Times Square. What's not to like?
While I'm there, I've got to make progress on this winter's knit along at the shop: Ysolda Teague's Pumpkin Ale cardigan from the book Rhinebeck Sweaters.
I swatched 8 yarns for this project as it's originally knit from a yarn we don't stock. A yarn we don't stock knit to a pretty tight gauge then soaked to relax. A yarn that hits, grist wise, right between a DK weight and a straight up worsted weight. Hmm... tricky.
I got all of the yarns to hit the gauge of 21 stitches over 4 inches. Some are looser and drapey, some are tight and firm, even after washing. Some are a comfortable knit, some hurt my hands.
I settled on Ella Rae Lace Merino worsted in a pretty highly variegated dark plum. A walk on the wild side, so to speak. Since it is snowy and too o'dark early for pictures, I'll ruminate instead:
The back of the sweater is knit first and is a cabled panel with some waist shaping. I'm fighting with the garter stitch background in the cable sections -- as opposed to reverse stockinette. Well, it's fighting me. Whatever... I keep having to rework it.
The edges of this cable panel are knit in icord and will be picked up later to knit the fronts of the cardigan side to side. It took 8 rows for my brain to realize that this means you slip the first two stitches of every row and work the last two. I'm over thinking this and I plead garter stitch distraction.
With teeny mini cables, cabling without a cable needle is best. You know the ones where each right-side row has a one stitch cross? I'm wrapping my brain around teaching cabling without a cable needle to my knit along participants while I work. It'll be a trip.
There is nothing that cements a process in your head like teaching it to someone else. Or contemplating teaching it to someone else.
I don't think I can read and knit this sweater back at the same time. I may have to cast on something else so I can knit and finish the book I'm reading -- some regency romance thing with a mystery... I can look it up if you want. It's really pretty good but I have to finish it so I can read my book club book which will be discussed next weekend. And I need to knit the back of this sweater. Which will be hindered by casting on something simple that I can knit while I read.
I never should have started ruminating because now I'm conflicted.
Just as an aside. The TNNA conference in San Diego last weekend hosted a consultant who then spoke pretty condescendingly on his blog about passionate TNNA participants (wow, there's an association for EVERYTHING!). Thinking things should not equal saying them out loud or putting them in writing. That is all.
Last January, January 2013, we decided to start something new at the shop. I would lead sweater knit alongs, with the goal of encouraging the knitting of sweaters and as a by product the buying of sweater quantities of yarn...
Really, though, not nearly so mercenary. There is nothing so satisfying as helping someone achieve a goal, and in this first case, a rather complicated one. In the fullness of time, I've realized that many of my knit along participants are perfectly capable of knitting sweaters. They like, however, not to spin their wheels. A knit along provides the safety net of weekly check ins and support so that the likelihood of a relatively error-free sweater that fits is higher. Good all around, right?
Back to our first. As soon as the sample came in for this Cascade yarn sweater, I knew I wanted to knit it. It's a free pattern from their website and so I dove right in.
As patterns go, it's a relatively unsophisticated one -- written simply and for only two sizes. The only beef I have with the pattern in the end is that the samples were so obviously not knit from the verbiage presented as the pattern. Stitch counts and finishing details are quite different on the samples we have in the shop and that caused a little bit of a problem with participants and their expectations concerning their own finished products. Which were lovely, by the way. See?
I had 5 participants, and these are the 2 sweaters I actually got pictures of -- 4 of the 5 finished.
A good beginning. The last knit along I ran had 28 participants spread over two different day and time offerings. I'd say there is a market for this kind of thing. But more on this later. Today, I wanted to talk about sweater surgery.
After I'd finished the back of this sweater, I noticed something. Something I couldn't live with, though God knows I tried to convince myself that it was a small mistake and one no one but me would notice. You got it ... the dreaded miss-crossed cable. Well, actually, an un-crossed cable. So sad.
On to the Techknitter blog I went, and surfed around a bit after that. I understand the concept of this type of sweater surgery, but I wanted to cement the specifics in my mind before I chopped away at the center cable motif of my knit along sweater. Some shining example, huh?
The idea is to isolate the problem, in the case above, the row where the cable doesn't cross and should. I used two cable needles because they are what I had at hand, but you could use double pointed needles a few sizes smaller than needle you are using on the project, or a couple of darning needles would work.
I picked up one leg of each stitch in the cable in the row above the problem row and one leg of each stitch in the cable in the row below the problem. In this case, 9 stitches, 8 for the crossing parts of the cable and one purl stitch which rides down the center of the cross and adds definition to the cable.
Now. Snip the purl stitch and pull out the yarn on either side of it to open up the 4 stitches on either side of the purl. Really.
And of course there are no intervening pictures because I was hyperventilating and kitchnering as fast as I could, but I'll recount here...
Snip the purl. Undo the 4 stitches on each side to free up the cable and use a 3rd needle to re-situate the stitches on the white cable needle so that they cross appropriately. Then use new yarn to kitchener the stitches on the two needles together. Do this fast because you'll be holding your breath the whole time and you don't want to pass out while your sweater is opened up.
Weave in the ends of the yarn you pulled out and of the yarn you used to kitchener your cable together. When you do this, you'll orient your rows correctly so that your cable is the right length. That, my friends is an error with which I can live...
Here is the back of the sweater, newly repaired -- the center cable just above and to the left of the pen is the repaired cable. Also, this is a photo of the sweater before I've blocked it. Un blocked? 18 inches. Blocked? 23 inches. Block. Your. Swatches.
I like it blocked so much better -- un blocked, the thing leans toward the cable crosses, but blocking straightens that all out and opens up the cables. Pretty.
Here is the finished product, the details of which are discussed here on Ravelry.
It's a pretty warm sweater, but I knit it out of a wool blend yarn that I can wear next to my skin, so it ends up being pretty wearable -- about the warmth of a sweatshirt. And that wool/acryllis blend is cheap -- the materials for this baby cost only $35 with my discount. Not bad.
I used an online collage editor, Fotor to be specific, for this collage... not too sharp. I think I'll try several to see which I like. Any suggestions?
The specifics for all of these projects are up on Ravelry. I'll just skim the surface here.
Most of the above knitting is for relatives. I made hats for most of the nieces and nephews, with the exception of the two youngest who got sweaters. Matching sweaters. Just look at this picture of the two of them wearing their sweaters ... the cuteness, it burns!
I loved making the orange hunting hat -- skulls and crossbones and in a color you can see from space? What's not to like. Here it is up close:
That's HiKoo Cariboo crocheted onto the edge of that hat. Super soft and furry. Actually, in the ball, it's kind of tribbley and baby-chick-ish, but in small doses, it's really fun.
The hermit crab hat, a slight variation on Elizabeth Zimmermann's Swirl hat, is a huge hit with the nephew who asked for "a hat with a hermit crab on it". Which doesn't exist, btw... so I applied ear-flap claws and googly i-cord eyes to a Swirl hat knit with two shell colors held together.
Turns out, tragically, that the hermit crab pet in question died a few days before he got the hat on Christmas Eve and the gift could have been a debacle. Instead, he loves the hat and calls it his Hermie hat in remembrance of said pet and Sister/his mom says he barely takes it off. Whew.
Here are the hats in action.
And two nieces. Aren't they beautiful?
As an aside, I couldn't resist trying on the Elf Liberation Front Hat before I sent it off. I'd have kept that one and made another if there had been time.
I didn't use the E.L.F. pattern from the Unofficial Harry Potter knitting book as that one is knit from sock yarn on size 3 needles. I'd call this hat inspired by the E.L.F. hat using typical worsted weight hat numbers and short rows to get the hats to sit cockeyed.