Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Just Popping In -

Popping in after a very long time away-  So what’s new? Much is the same-just with little variations- life is good.

I transitioned out of and into some new work and have been focusing on trying to not be so darn busy just being busy.  The husband is happy in some new work with lots of potential for him to use his creative skills and David just started his Junior Year as an illustration major and loves it!

There has been lots of knitting for me this past year and I have had the wonderful opportunity to do some teaching at my favorite local yarn store –  knitting 101 , beginners socks, mittens, as well as a slew of color work  sweater and fair Isle classes. I’m finding the teaching really energizing.

I’ve also been flexing some designing muscles. Last winter I posted a couple of patterns for color work mittens and last week I posted my Recipe for Fair Isle hats and a crown chart on Ravelry -partly the result of all that playing around with hats I was doing when last we met.  I’m plotting to spend more time designing this winter.

Big news is that a week from today I head out to Scotland. I’ve been planning and dreaming about this 3 week adventure for quite some time now.  There will be lots of train travel- ferry rides- island discovery and Wool Week shenanigans! I am beside myself with excitement!

All that to say – will be back the end of October with lots of photos and news to share – or if you happen to be on Instagram – I spend a fair amount of time there. Happy Knitting to you!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Third and Final Hat For a Bit-

Can’t believe Friday is here- I got home from a wonderful weekend visiting family – then scurried around tying things up at work- and today we head off – Up North camping!  Wanted to be sure to post about the third and final hat in my  personal mini Fair Isle Hat Challenge before I head out.

I spent a little more time on this hat because I was really interested in doing a little something different with the crown.

I picked out quite a few little bits of yarn. The colors are blues, greens, dark green/brown and little hits of black.I had labels for….Charcoal, Earth, Grouse, Cosmos, Moorgrass, Yell Sound , Sky, and  Woodgreen. These colors remind me so much of the landscape where we camp- I know I was daydreaming of our upcoming trip as I pulled the colors together...

I try to be organized about keeping track of colors, but it gets tricky – Often I get carried away and start knitting and forget to lable a band...

I cast on 136 stitches using a size 2 needle. This time I used a cable cast on and this turned out to be the method that gave me the result I liked best.  I did a 1by1 rib here and that also proved to be my favorite of all three hats. I needed to adjust the increase to 176  stitches because of the pattern I chose which is # 142 from the “200 Fair Isle Motifs” book.

To play with the crown pattern I pulled out an old issue of Threads magazine- Dec. Jan. 88-89. I decided to do a 7 point star and  adjusted the space between the star shapes and added in a tree motif  from Mary Jane’s new book ‘150 Scandinavian Motifs”.

Because the crown starts with 168 stitches this hat has a crown with a wider diameter than the Feitelson hat. On this hat I used the Slip 1, K2together, Pass the slipped stitch over- decrease. This makes a little raised ridge, which I found I liked – but I think I may like the look of the Hat#2 decrease better.

I did find that I needed to reknit the crown because I wasn’t really happy with my initial transition between the body and crown.Thankfully I had slipped a "lifeline" in before I started the crown so it was relatively pain-free to rip back.

I am so  happy that I took the time to reknit-  can truly say this one ended up being my favorite- probably my favorite hat ever- and I’ve knit a lot of hats!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Hat #2

For Hat #2 I wanted to play with adding different patterns to the same basic hat recipe from the Feitelson book. Mary Jane Mucklestone’s book “200 Fair Isle Motifs” is the perfect resource for this kind of experimentation. The motifs are arranged like a directory and organized by row and stitch count.

I picked out some colors I liked – but not necessarily colors I would normally be drawn to - Poppy, Lichen, Sunrise, Yell Sound Blue, and Earth. To me it has a vintage Scandinavian look. (I am noticing it’s a little tricky to accurately capture the color but this is pretty close)

I decided to revisit the two color long tail cast on just because I think it’s such a clever way to start working with two colors right off the bat.  Do you know this cast on? It’s like a regular long tail cast on but you hold two different colors together rather than doubling back yarn from one ball – the bonus no need to quesstimate how much yarn to double back. In the end what did I discover?- While it’s a clever way to cast on, I don’t really like the look of the edge. I also wasn’t really happy with the look of the 2by2 rib. I think the contrast is a little stark.

The Motifs I used are #33, #126, and #185. I ended up with 47 rows of pattern in the body and made a slight adjustment in where I started the crown chart.

For the crown I used the slip 2 tog, Knit 1, Pass the slipped stitches over decrease in the background color. The end result looks like a flat knitted chain that appeals to me.

I decided to keep this hat in a beanie shape after soaking.

I’m visiting back home this weekend and my sister Nancy has adopted this one. Looks so cute on her and goes really well with a jacket she brought home from a recent trip to Scotland.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Hat #1

I had plenty of Shetland Spindrift in my stash in colors very similar to the ones pictured in Feitleson’s first hat. Mossy greens and heathery purples are one of my favorite color combinations.

I used a size 2 needle and tried a knitted on cast on.  Seems with corrugated ribbing that many folks have issues with rolling edges when they use the long tail cast on. Searching a few pages on Ravelry a number of people swear by the knitted cast on so I gave it a whirl.  Have to say I did like the look of it better  and it did seem to control the rolling a bit- but I usually find that a slight roll will behave after washing and blocking.

To look at yarn dominance (the term used to describe which color pops forward in the design based on how the colors are held)  I did the first big pattern with purple held on the left as the pattern color and the second big pattern with green on the left.  When I look at the design I see the purple as the pattern . While I like the look of the first band I think the second is more successful . the purple naturally recedes and is more defined when the greens were held as the pattern color. Granted this is really personal preference stuff- but it is interesting to observe why you like what you like. 

Checking the project pages for this hat on Ravelry many people commented that the hat was just too tall. I decided to eliminate a few rows of the pattern , doing 44 rows rather than 48 rows of the body patterns. 

For the crown I used the basic knit 3 together decrease in the pattern color which gave me nice dashes of color.

I liked the beanie shape of the hat and actually think the length would have been ok even with 4 extra rows. I think we are more used to seeing a slouchy style hat now than when the book was originally published. I decided to play a little with blocking the hat out using a dinner plate. It did take on a nice tam shape.  My 10 inch plate reached row 23 of the pattern. (useful to know if you ever want to add your own patterns to the basic hat recipe)

Love the way this hay turned out! Jumped right in on another…

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Some Housekeeping and a Mini Challenge

Seems I’m having a little difficulty with my comment service- Disqus. Email notifications haven’t been coming through and I’m thinking it was because I was having issues with an increase in spam comments.  So please forgive me while I try and sort things out. And thank you for your kind comments on my last post.

Also –I think I mentioned a few posts back that I’ve been using my phone for photos. Once I started using the phone more it wasn’t long before I bumped into Instagram.It started out pretty innocently …wanting to keep in touch with family. Then I started using #s like  #knitting and well – while I wouldn’t say I’m addicted to it – I am really enjoying it. So just to let you know you can find me on Instagram as Fidlstix and it would be fun to see you there.

I will confess to have posted my fair share of cat photos and “selfies” and selfies with cat photos- but it’s all in fun!

The tricky thing for me has been deciding what photos go there and what photos go here and how much overlap is ok and then not to forget to add photos to Ravelry….and then how to squeeze some knitting in???

I have been getting some knitting in. In fact I decided to give myself a little challenge.

After knitting Tantallon I was really in the mood to get back to some colorwork. I love knitting hats to try out techniques. So I took the King Harold Street Hat from Ann Feitelson’s book "The Art of Fair Isle Kitting" as a jumping off point.

Here’s what I was interested in exploring…..
  • I wanted to use colors I had on hand – trying not to be tempted to run out to buy just the right color
  • I wanted experiment with some different cast on methods
  • I wanted to try the three decrease methods Feitelson discusses in her book
  • I also wanted to experiment a little with yarn dominance

Over the next few days I’ll share some notes and photos from my personal mini hat challenge.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Some Sad News

It’s been pretty quiet here mostly because I haven’t been able to think of how to share some sad news… A couple of weeks ago some unknown “predator” got into the barn. One of the chickens -Blossom- must have been dragged away. Henrietta was just killed and left. The whole thing was pretty traumatizing for the other chickens as well as for me.  I’ve read enough to know that this is something you should prepare yourself for when it comes to raising chickens- still it ‘s difficult. I thought I should share it here because I’ve posted so often about the chicks and you have watched them grow up as well.

Blossom and Henrietta were much loved chickens- they brought me much joy- and they will be missed.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

I Can and I Can Complete Something

I was excited to see sour cherries at our farmers market this week.Last year due to strange spring weather there were virtually no cherries here in Michigan… a very sad thing  -no cherries… It’s really true that absence makes the heart grow fonder.

I brought some home and thought a while before settling on turning them into a simple syrup to mix in drinks. Just washed and pitted them and chopped them up and mixed in half as much sugar. I filled two-pint jars. I’m going to let it sit a while in the fridge before I start adding it to just about everything under the sun….Manhattans, Limeade. Sangria… This is where I go for Canning inspiration.

I also brought home some pickling cucumbers and had my first go at making pickles.

I used the recipe  for “Bread and Butter Pickles” that was on the back of the Ball Canning Cos. pickling salt package.  Simple and straight forward- they turned out pretty good for a first try.  The directions say to let them stand for 4-6 weeks before sampling so the flavors blend- well I had a little dish of leftovers and they tasted wonderful – sweet and spicy and crispy.

I also finished up the rainbow hap shawl this week. 

Somehow- probably due to a glass of wine I was drinking-

I managed to knit an extra repeat of the 24 row pattern.  I should have realized something was up. I used some 1200 meters of yarn where the pattern calls for 826.  That meant and extra 72 stitches to be bound off- a total of 495 stitches- which is a lot of stitches when it’s 92 degrees out and you don’t have air conditioning, but you are still determined to get the job done. The sewn bind off is a lesson in patience and perseverance- two stitches back – one forward- all the while drawing a massive amount of yarn carefully through the stitches.

So doing the extra repeat was a good thing in the end because I really like the extra yardage- I’m sure I’m a little larger than Kate Davies- so I could use the extra yardage. The shawl was to measure 63-inches in the wingspan and 24 inches from nape to tip. Mine measures 98 inches in the wingspan and 36 inches from nape to tip.

I used all of 2 -150 gram balls of Kauni and ran out in the second to last row- not to worry though- did I mention I have way more of this stuff on hand than anyone really should.

So mission accomplished- I used 2 balls of the Kauni and had the joy of knitting a Hap Shawl!

The photo above was before soaking and blocking.

You’ll have to trust me that the fabric turned out beautifully. I’ll try to post a modeled photo soon – need to secure a photographer…

Sending Birthday Wishes to my Mom this week! XXXOOO Will be looking forward to a visit to Cleveland in the next couple of weeks!