Knitting

Happy Yarn

white mailing box surrounded by skeins of different colored yarn

Martina Behm’s Strickmich! Club has gone on hiatus for 2023 so no squishy packages will arrive this winter from Damsdorf, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany.  Lest I miss the excitement of mystery yarn deliveries, I have filled the gap by joining the Sew Happy Jane Hand Dyed Happy Yarn Club.

Heather Best is an amazing fiber colorist.  I used her DK tweed in the Brighter Day colorway for my Fireworks pullover and a matching cowl.  The yarn was lovely to work with and that sweater is among my favorites for a bit of warm color on a gray winter day.  Using her Kool-Aid formulas, (Yes, the sweet summer drink concoction!) I took five skeins from au naturel wool to subtle hues all the while learning that my passion is not as a dyer.

She begins dying each month’s palate only after club orders are placed.  This ensures accurate quantities without overstocking and enables members to choose Fingering or DK weight yarn in single 100g. skeins or to double the fun with a pair of perfectly coordinated hanks – 1 tonal and 1 painted.  And, if beautiful yarn is not a prize in itself, each themed box includes curated gifts.  Club members may vary weights and quantities each month and even pause participation for a month or two without totally disengaging.  The flexible subscription plan is great for participants, although I imagine this marketing approach requires more recordkeeping.  Waiting is the only downside of this new yarn service.  On these gray January days, while Heather is deep in color-filled production, I must wait to discover the treasures of my February Happy Yarn Club box.

Happy knitting!

Photo credit:  © 2023 Sew Happy Jane

Knitting · Reading

2022 Highlighted in Knitting & Books

Taking an inventory of the old year is by no means a unique task.  It is, however, not something I have done previously in this blog.  So here are a few highlights of my 22 knitting projects (some of which you will have already seen) and my titles read – 82 – although to be honest, I indulged in a number of quick read YA fantasies and enjoyed a variety of easy-listening titles while driving to-and-from Eau Claire and hours spent gardening last summer in order to reach this quantity.

Knitting

Solstice Mittens

blue-brown knit mittens
Slightly wonky but very warm fulled mittens

With winter storm warnings blinking on my computer tool bar and anticipated temperatures hovering below zero all day, it seemed the perfect time to wear my first ever fulled wool mittens. 

The timeline from knitting to fulling to wearing spans nearly a decade.  These mittens were knit between February – March 2013 during a course at a local fabric store no longer in business.  But the class only provided the pattern and a knitting circle on two evenings.  I took my new project home and worried about how to actually create the thick mittens without ruining my work.  I finally deduced that whether I ruined the mittens during the hot water agitated washing or if they simply continued to sit at the bottom of a wicker yarn basket, they were equally unwearable.  A Covid Finishing Fest hosted by Northfield Yarns in May 2020 gave me the impetus to watch several how-to videos and violà mittens!  Not needed with springtime temps, I tucked them away to be forgotten, thought lost, then found, and worn today for the first time.   

Happy winter solstice!

Note:  The distinction between fulling and felting is one of timing.  In the textile world, felting is a done with fibers, not with woven cloth while fulling describes the act of wet finishing the woven cloth or knitted item with water, temperature and agitation.

Knitting

Before the next sweater…

Since my knitted contributions to this year’s church auction (the Mallory Shawl and the French Oak Scarf) were successful in raising funds and as Brezel, Marie Greene’s new design for her 2023 January Sweater Workshop, is waiting in the wings, I just completed several smaller projects.  Using worsted weight tweed yarn in vibrant magenta, the matching beanie and scarf combo with reversible cables was a quick project.  Plus, this set gives me a head start on next year’s auction donations.

And for a sneak peak at Brezel details — With a release date of December 30 for Knit Campers like me, Bretzel incorporates Bavarian twisted stitches and German short rows to create an overall design resembling a platter of carefully crafted pretzels.  And, yes, the name of the sweater is the German translation of this symmetrically twisted, salty snack.  In the weeks ahead, in addition to the knitting lessons shared during this sweater workshop, there is a promise of pretzel baking lessons.  Yumm!

Knitting

My Busy Needles

handknit blue shawl with contracting cream colored bands and lace edge
Apple Cart Shawl using Rustic Silk in Niagara Falls and Cape Cod colorways

The word of the day:  précisa shortened version of a speech or written report containing main points and omitting minor details is apropos for this Finished Object Friday (FOF) as I am providing a partial update of what has come off my needles since May.

The most recent project ready to be mailed is the second of two Apple Cart Shawls which features contrasting bands of color, with just enough texture to keep the design interesting.  Both shawls were knit using Ella Rae’s Rustic Silk making them versatile wardrobe additions perfect for Minnesota summer evenings or any time of the year in warmer climes.  This design is one of three in a new series from Marie Greene’s stash buster collection.  Each of the titles in this pattern trio start with A and, from recent reports, the B threesome will be released very soon.

close up of hand knit pick shawl with contracting cream colored bands and lace edge
Apple Cart Shawl using Rustic Silk in Rosenberg and Cape Cod colorways

I commandeered the Ruffled Shawlette for my recent Massachusetts Pilgrimage.  It provided a lovely, dress-up accent for evening dinners and offered a hint of protection in over-zealous air conditioned rooms.  This was also knit using Ella Rae’s Rustic Silk.  It is small, easy to pack and (most important for the well-dressed traveler) wrinkle free.  If you are looking for this kerchief pattern, check out 22 Little Clouds by Martina Behm. 

handknit blue kerchief on wooden hanger
Ruffled Shawlette using Rustic Silk in Graceland

The Mallory Shawl by Heidi Hennessy features a delicate lattice that flows from the tip of the triangle to a wide ribbed base.  Knit using ethically sourced Merino wool from Uruguay, the slightly variegated green tones compliment the interconnecting cables.  The luxurious wrap, perfect for chilly winter days, was a WIP (work-in-progress) from March to September and became my go-to project between other creations. 

handknit green shawl with interconnecting cables twisted throughout
Mallory Shawl using Malabrigo Sock in a Kris colorway

A Suri and silk cowl with a complimentary headband were my first foray into working with lace weight yarn, something that I had shied away from simply due to the super fine nature.  However, in the interest of honest reporting, I did hold the Naturel and Rubia colorways double thus technically making a blended fingering weight mix. The Cooler Side of Warm cowl is designed by Espace Tricot, “a modern knitting shop in Montreal”.

Happy knitting!

handknit coral colored cowl on wooden hanger
Cooler Side of Warm cowl with blended Naturel & Rubia colorways
Knitting

Purplish

Say purple and Minnesota Vikings’ purple and gold might come to mind and, I would add, not my favorite color combo.  Yet, when I learned of the Colour Challenge (and, yes, colour is spelled correctly as the challenge originators are from Yorkshire and Canada!) I thought of the amount of purple perennials in my garden; purplish accents in our living room; once upon a time, a favorite pair of shoes; most recently, a purple streak in my hair as a “wild and crazy” homage to my 70th birthday; and one dare not check my knitting project page or my yarn stash. 

Celebrate purplish!

Written in response to SueW’s & GC’s Weekly Prompts Colour Challenge – Purplish

Knitting

Knitting Plans – so much yarn, so little time

Even as my head is full of possibilities having just completed the 3-day, Knit Camp at the Coast, VIP retreat with Marie Greene, I am planning ahead for those frigid days when the garden is in its winter rest.  As a means of continuing my knitting immersion, I registered for the 2022 Have a Ball Fall Crawl and several Fireside Chats.  These virtual activities were created in 2020 as our world went into pandemic lockdown and local yarn stores (LYS) scrambled to stay afloat.  Even as brick-n-mortar sales picked up, shop owners had discovered these online events were an engaging marketing technique.  Through the wonder of Zoom, local and distant customers could be brought together with far-flung resources which generated sales and kept ledgers in the black.

The five-day Fall Crawl will feature 28 LYSs located in the U.S. and Canada including several that I frequent often – Yarnology in Winona and 3 Kittens in Mendota Heights (always a regular stop anytime I am on my way to St. Paul); several that I only know as online vendors like Knot Another Hat in Hood River, Oregon, as well as shops that are on my wish list of places to visit like Stash in Charlotte, NC (hopefully as part of November 2023 plans to attend Verse & Vino – that library’s major fundraiser).  Each participating shop will have 45-minutes to showcase its specialties, share locally designed patterns, and offer discounted sales.  Plus, there are will be prizes just for participating!

The Fall 2022 Fireside Chats will connect Zoom participants and designers from California to Denmark, Uruguay to Maine and beyond.  The various creators will share the story of their unique fiber journeys, showcase favorite techniques, and describe their latest creative ventures.  There will be time for Q&A, pattern discounts, and (yes) more prizes.

Happy Knitting!

Knitting

Three Days to Knit

ocean background with knit camp at the coast 2022 retreat text overlay

After several recent trips with destinations dependent upon multiple flights, I am ready to be a homebody and pleased that my next “excursion” will be virtual – thanks to the wonder of Zoom and WiFi on my screened porch.

Within hours of Knit Camp at the Coast registration going live in May, I was registered for Marie Greene’s third annual knitting retreat VIP package. The itinerary for this 3-Day event imbues a Pacific NW vibe with days full of new knitting skills taught by well-known practitioners. When you add in coastal drink recipes, small group breakout rooms, and retreat swag, it will be the best non-trip trip of the summer.

In prep for Marie’s Pop Knitting class, I am stash diving for contrasting fingering skeins. As advertised, her shared skills will take a simple beanie and embellish it with “bright twists, braids, and other bursts of colorful texture.”

As a fan of short rows, another session will cover the mechanics of different short row techniques, as well provide advice about when and where to use them. Short rows can be a practical devise (to add a smidge of length to the back of a sweater) or an artful design element.

My calendar is cleared; my homework is on the needles; and my excitement is mounting as I count the days to mid-September fun.

Happy Knitting!

Knitting

Sailaway Starts Today

blue and green graphic logo for Olive Knits Sailaway knit along

The color combos and at-gauge swatches knit in beautiful yarns as shared by my fellow Knit Campers proved too tempting.  With today’s cast-on (after wavering earlier this month) I joined Marie Greene’s sixth annual 4-Day knit-along (KAL).  Free patterns (always well designed and precisely written) and advance access prior to the actual pattern drop are among the many Knit Camp membership benefits.  So while this KAL officially begins tomorrow, I already have Comfy worsted cotton in a lovely mix of silver sage and planetarium blue on my needles.  

Sailaway is a top-down cardigan which takes its inspiration from the current popular Coastal Grandmother Aesthetic fashion style – classic, loose fitting designs, often in natural fibers, and perfect for a summer in the Hamptons.  (Imagine Diane Keaton or other older women living in luxurious oceanfront properties.)  Having just celebrated 70, with a swatch of purple contrasting against my more salty coiffure, I definitely fall into that demographic group sans the beach house.

Happy Knitting!

Graphic:  © Marie Greene

Knitting

Decisions, Decisions

I am vacillating as to whether or not to join Marie Greene’s six annual 4-Day sweater knit-a-long (KAL).  While I do not aspire to knit a sweater in just four days, I can satisfactorily attest to the success of my previous 4-Day KAL participation.  Each of my three projects, Foxtrot in 2019, Soundtrack during the summer months of our 2020 Covid quarantine and last summer’s Fireworks, resulted in sweaters that are worn regularly and (quite pleasantly) receive lots of compliments.  All points in the pro column.  Add to the positive list that this summer’s 4-Day pattern, Sailaway, was designed to accommodate different yarn weights and even different fibers.  So while I don’t really need another wool sweater (lovely as they are), it is quite tempting to consider knitting one using a plant-based blended yarn.  My previous cotton projects have been dishcloth gifts so definitely a more challenging endeavor.

While Marie’s summer designs always integrate a new stitch to hold KAL participants’ interest, the 4-Day pattern strives for simple lines should anyone actually feel the need for speed.  This summer’s top-down, seamless cardigan fits that prerequisite.  The knitter (that might be me) can opt for two contrasting colors on a slip-stitched yoke or a pattern with a little less fuss where the featured mini sails are revealed in just one complementary color.  This version also sports a slightly taller collar and pinstripes.

Decisions, decisions – just like Hamlet, to KAL or not to KAL that is the question and then to decide, with or without buttons.

Graphic:  © Marie Greene