Saturday, October 29, 2016

A Day of Workshops

It's time to get ready for the gift season. While I try to avoid last minute knitting for gifts (knitting to a deadline seems to suck the joy out of the process for me), I know that lots of you put on a push to make a few items for family and friends. And even I usually end up doing a little of this no matter how much I try not to. What are my favourite gift items? Hats. No need to make a pair, as is the case with mitts and socks, and great for using up odds and ends from the stash. Join me on November 19 for a day of skill-boosting just in time for the holidays.

When: Saturday, November 19, 2016

Where: 420 Regent St. (Barriefield), Kingston, ON (Unlike our current location, there's plenty of parking!)

Workshop 1 (9-12): All About Stranded Knitting (Fair Isle)
 I'll cover techniques for both one-handed and two-handed methods for stranding, how to weave the carried yarn in at the back of the work, how to work corrugated ribbing, read charts, and make yarn and colour choices. I'll also talk about types of fair isle patterns and designing your own. You'll get a copy of the pattern for this easy tam to try out just in time for gift season.

Workshop 2 (1-4): Dare to Cut! Taking the Mystery Out of Steeking (Cutting)
No knowledge of stranded knitting is required for this class. Learn why cutting is a useful skill to have in your knitting toolbox and why it's not just for fair isle enthusiasts. I'll go over four different methods of creating a steek, or bridge of stitches for cutting, how to work shaping around steeked edges, how to secure the steek, cut, and finish it. By the end of the workshop you'll have lost your
fear of cutting, and opened up new avenues for your passion.
Cost: Half day--$30
          Full day--$50
Bring your own lunch. Coffee and tea provided.
How to Register: Send me a message at I'll contact you with information about course materials, which are minimal and how to pay in advance via Paypal.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Tutorial: A New All-in-One Shawl Collar

This tutorial demonstrates a deeper shawl collar than the one in the original Buttonbox Waistcoat from Knitty, Spring 2013. I've been thinking about this for a while. My previous tutorial on shawl collars presented a two-step format, with the front bands being completed first (laying the base for the collar), and the collar being completed separately. The advantage of that format, as a designer, was that it allowed for some playing around with the collar while leaving the front bands undisturbed. This one-step version involves partial completion of the front bands, then partial completion of the collar, followed by a long cast-off of the whole works in one smooth step. This new version can be adapted for any of my shawl collar garments (Zora, Wakefield Redux, Buttonbox, and Harriet), but for the purposes of this exercise I'm going to set out how to do it for the Buttonbox Waistcoat. Here goes...

1. Using a size 4 mm 32" circ (one size smaller needle than that used for the body), and starting at the bottom of the right front, pick up sts along the right front band, around the collar, and down the left front band. Do so using the same ratios I presented earlier:
- for vertical sections (front bands and the upper V-neck), pick up 3 sts for every 4 rows,
- for diagonal bits (the  V-neck and the short slopes on either side of the back neck) pick up one st for every row,
- in the tiny gaps between the back neck slopes and the centre back neck, work M1s into the horizontal strand in the gap; make the M1s lean toward the centre back neck, i.e. M1L on the right hand side, and M1R on the left hand side.

2. Knit one row. Insert locking st markers where you want your buttonholes to be. The top one should be 3 stitches below the V-neck, and I like the bottom one to be about an inch from the bottom. Space the others accordingly. Place them BETWEEN the two stitches where you want each buttonhole to go. Use locking stitch markers of a different colour to mark where the V-neck begins and ends.

3. Buttonhole row  AND beginning of short rows for collar(RS): *Knit to 2 sts before buttonhole marker, k2tog, YO, k2tog, rep from * until last buttonhole is completed, knit around collar to 2 sts before left side V-neck marker (the second one), SWR (see below), turn.
4. (WS row): Knit to 2 sts before right side V-neck marker, SWR, turn.

5. Knit to 4 sts before left side V-neck marker, SWR, turn.
6. Knit to 4 sts before right side V-neck marker, SWR, turn.

7. Knit to 6 sts before left side V-neck marker, SWR, turn.
8. Knit to 6 sts before right side V-neck marker, SWR, turn.

Cont to work pairs of short rows, working the wraps 2 sts apart until there are 22 wraps on ea side in total (total desired number of garter st ridges minus 3). In this case, I wanted 25 ridges in total (remember that in garter st, it takes 2 rows to make one ridge.)
AT SAME TIME, after 12 ridges (about half the total desired number of ridges) counted from the RS of the waistcoat back (don't count the first ridge which is actually the ridge from Row 8 of the charted pattern), inc approx 3" worth of sts (14 in this example) by the kfb method in the centre back between the shoulders. The increase row must be worked on the side that will become the RS when the collar is flipped over into its position when worn.
After the last SWR and turn, knit to end, ignoring wraps, i.e. don't bother to neaten them (see note below).

Next Row (WS): Knit to end, ignoring wraps, and working (k1, p1) into each YO to complete the buttonholes.

Last Row: Knit.

BO knitwise from the WS, using a 4 mm dpn in your right hand for the front borders (which should be worked rather firmly) and a 5 mm dpn (one size larger needle than for the body) for the collar (which needs to be done in a more relaxed manner). When casting off, work the last 2 sts tog for a neat corner.
Ta da!

General notes on garter stitch short rows: I've used Lucy Neatby's abbreviation SWR for slip, wrap, replace. Slip next st purlwise, bring yarn to opposite side of work, replace the slipped st, turn, and continue. Make the wraps fairly snug. In fact, Lucy talks about "strangling" the wrapped stitch! In garter st there is no need to to do anything more to neaten the wraps. Neither should you slip the first st of the next row as you would do in stocking stitch.

So, here's what the completed deeper shawl collar looks like:

Beautiful fall morning here, but...

chilly. Winter is coming!

P.S. In the course of re-knitting the waistcoat, I uncovered an error in the upper back regarding the placement of the knot pattern. See here for the correct numbers.

Friday, October 21, 2016

A Better Buttonbox

For a long time I've sensed that a lot of knitters would prefer a Buttonbox Waistcoat with a deeper collar. Some knitters have had trouble getting their collar to stay put, usually because they've used superwash wool or they haven't wet blocked their vest. My notes on the Ravelry page for this design have for a long time pointed to my tutorial on how to knit a deeper shawl collar. Well, at long last I'm making my own Buttonbox with just such a collar, and what's more, I'm getting ready to write up the details so anyone can do it without having to go through all their own calculations. Even better, the collar has a new all-in-one methodology, with the final cast-off covering the button bands and collar all in one smooth closing act. Here's a glimpse:

Everything you need to know to re-create this look in a couple of days (plus a small correction for a set of numbers in the upper back of the Knitty pattern). See you then...

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Frostfern Returns!

I've had a lot of queries from Ravelry knitters about when this cardigan would return to my shop. Well, here it is at last. I'm really pleased with the fit of the kimono-style collar. I'll probably get around soon to doing a tutorial on how to design your own kimono collar--it's not as easy as you'd think. The updated version of the design calls for Hikoo's Kenzie, a luscious blend of merino, angora, alpaca, nylon, and silk noils. It's absolutely perfect for this sweater, and I'll be using it again for sure.

For those of you wondering, our current house has not yet sold, but we are in possession of (although not yet occupying) the new house. Here are some pics of where we'll be going eventually.

These are the good bits. There's a lot that needs some TLC. But that's actually going to be fun to solve!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Coming up on Ravelry...

I meant to spend the day finishing up the edits on Frostfern, but instead I ended up taking care of a lot of post-Thanksgiving cleanup jobs. In the meantime, here are some pics I took of my new Frostfern in Hikoo's Kenzie. I'm in love with this yarn and its soft angora halo.

OK, I know the cardigan is pinned a little crooked--left is higher than right.
See the yarn halo? Mmmm. Yum.
I'm also sneaking in some knitting on a new Buttonbox Waistcoat, since this is the peak time of year to utilize its layering properties. You know how fall mornings start cold, but warm up. This piece is the perfect solution and I thought it would be great to have another.

Purple heather, for a change. 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Canadian Thanksgiving

There was an article in the NY Times this weekend about Canadian Thanksgiving. Having spent 16 years living in the US, I can write emphatically that Thanksgiving here has little in common with the out-sized American version of the holiday. Here it's simply a long weekend in October (it always coincides with America's Columbus Day weekend). The holiday is on the Monday, but most families I know have their big dinner on the Sunday, reflecting the fact that the Canadian holiday seems to have grown out of Church of England Harvest Sunday celebrations (also, anyone travelling needs the Monday to get back to where they came from). In Canada, the holiday is not much more than an excuse for university kids to go home for a few days, especially if they're only a short train trip away. Sorry, Isabel, we missed you! Since there are only three days, few Canadians fly home for Thanksgiving. Who wants to spend two of three days at airports? So, although the trains and roads are busier than usual, this is not the blockbuster travel weekend that America experiences every November. Our big holiday is Christmas, possibly because it's extended by Boxing Day.
Next there are the food differences. First off, there seems to be a lot less food "hype" here. I was always amazed, when we lived in DC, at the enormous focus on Thanksgiving food. It was talked about everywhere--in the media, at the supermarkets, with friends. Sure, we have a special meal here, but it all seems more like something you take in stride. And what's eaten is different. Yes, we usually have turkey. This year, as usual, I ordered a boneless turkey breast (turkey meat rolled and wrapped in skin) from my local butcher at Bearances Grocery. I guess it's the vegetables and the "sides" (for some reason I loathe that word) that make for the big difference. I write here about Eastern Ontario Thanksgiving food. It's the tradition I know. No candied sweet potatoes. You'd have trouble finding marshmallow fluff at the store. Green beans aren't especially popular. They're not in season at this time of year, and anyway, almost everyone here prefers the more tender yellow wax beans. What you will find are lots of local, fall vegetables like brussels sprouts, winter squashes, parsnips, and turnips (by which I mean yellow turnips or "rutabagas"). What to do with the latter? Try this, one of our fave recipes. As for dessert, apple or pumpkin pie dominate. You won't see graham cracker crusts on your pumpkin pie either, just old-fashioned pastry.
We've had our turkey, cranberry sauce,

 braised carrots and parsnips,


 stuffing (which I make in a casserole dish, not inside the turkey),

and pumpkin pie.

French side of the can.

English side.

Then, James and I drove out to the Lemoine Point Conservation Area and got some exercise and fresh air.

Milkweed losing its fluff.

Michaelmas daisies.

Finally, I worked on getting Frostfern ready to re-issue this week.

I suspect previous owners might have brought our knocker back from a sabbatical in Italy.
See you in a couple of days!