Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Shetland Wool Week Classes

This morning I was up and ready to book classes for Shetland Wool Week as soon as they were available online - 6:00 AM, my time.  All the time spent trying to get concert tickets in past has paid off - great training.  I was ready with my wish list and my credit card was at hand.

I'm so pleased that I got all of my first choices:

Click to enlarge
Of course, there is much more to do.  There are open studio visits, Sunday tea, gatherings with other knitters at The Hub, museums, sightseeing, etc.  It's going to be a full week of knitting.  I'm looking forward to spending time with friends, and making new friends from places far away!

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Countdown Is On

Sign-ups start tomorrow for classes at Shetland Wool Week.  I've got 4 of them picked out, plus some events, talks, open studios and get-togethers (makkin' and yakkin').  I've got my fingers crossed (which makes it difficult to knit) that I'm able to get my first choices.  It's hard to believe that Wool Week is in 4 months.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Mystery

Do you know this pattern?

Screen shot from The Great British Sewing Bee
It was seen on a British TV show and is a lovely design.  A late friend was working on this same shawlette, in these same colors.  She used Plucky Yarns.  It would be a shame to leave the project unfinished

Update: I've learned that the pattern is "Avant l'orage", which translates as Before The Storm.  It's a slip-stitch pattern, available on Ravelry in both French and English.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Tubular Bind Off

I've been knitting for a very long time and one thing that amazes me is that I'm still learning new techniques - new to me, at least.  I'm pleased about that.  I'd hate to think that there is an "end of the road" where you know it all.  Where's the fun in that?  Where's the challenge?  What would keep me interested?

I just learned how to do the Tubular Bind Off and I like the result, although I've had a couple of problems along the way.  The problems were all mine, not the technique.  I found that dropping a stitch back a few stitches and down a couple of rows, then trying to go back to pick it up is a pain.

Basically, you're putting your ribbing onto two needles.  For my K1, P1 ribbing I put the knit stitches on the front needle, the purl stitches on the back needle, then join using the Kitchener stitch.  I have no problems with the Kitchener stitch.  It's well-stuck in my brain.  However, it's not a good idea to try to do it (over a total of 260 stitches) when the yarn is black (with a slight halo), it's late and I'm tired and two light bulbs (out of 4 in the lamp) have burned out and I'm trying to avoid replacing until the next day - not a good combination.

For so many stitches you need to leave a long tail to do the Kitchener stitch.  I went overboard and could have grafted about 1000 stitches, so the tail was constantly getting twisted and tangled.  After redoing the tubular bind off a second time I've learned my lessons.

I'm working on the top-down Machu Picchu sweater and I wanted a bind off that didn't flare at the waist ribbing.  This one seems to be doing the trick.  I found excellent instructions by KnitPurlHunter. She's a good teacher, her videos are clear and a great resource.  This is a bind off that is stretchy and looks good.  I'll be using it often.


It should be easier to bind off the cuffs on the sleeves when I get there.  I hope so.  Like I said, I've learned my lessons.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Dallas and Area

Big D - little A - double L - A - S.

After the DFW Fiber Fest I stayed on in the Dallas area to do some sightseeing.  There were two places in particular that I wanted to visit.  One was the site of the President Kennedy assassination and the other was Southfork Ranch from the TV series, Dallas.

The JFK assassination was one of those events that you remember where you were when it happened.  (The bombing of the twin towers in NYC was another, as was the death of Elvis.)

I was 14 at the time and had watched the events on black and white TV.  It had been a day of exams (9th grade) and I learned about it when I was leaving school.  This was the first big news event that I remember and I was very affected by it.  It was the only thing on TV and it was hard for me to believe that something like this could happen.  That same feeling overcame me when Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. were killed.  The question was "WHY"?

Being in Dallas all these years later I had to see the location for myself, making it all the more real.  The atmosphere was not at all solemn, as I thought it might be.  There were lots of tourists and many teenagers obviously on a class trip. It seemed almost festive, which bothered me, but to be fair to them....it was much before their time and they had a day off school.  There were street vendors selling souvenir newspapers and little groups of people stopping to listen to someone describing their take on the events (conspiracy?  no conspiracy?).

Dealey Plaza, the "grassy knoll" was were people had gathered back in 1963 to watch the motorcade drive by.

Click on picture to enlarge.
In this picture of the grassy knoll, facing in the opposite direction, you can see the Texas School Book Depository, on the right, where Lee Harvey Oswald fired the shots.


The shots were fired from the sixth floor.  There is a white object in the window to show where the shooter was located.  It was an eerie, sick feeling to know that a man stood there and fired at and killed the President.


This sign is just around the corner from the building.  By the way, you can see that it was a beautiful day.  The sun was shining and it was 81 F.


The next day, and on a happier note, I drove out to Parker, Texas to visit Southfork Ranch, home of the fictional TV family, The Ewings.  Dallas was one show in which I've seen every episode.  My Mom was a big fan, too, and we would often discuss the shenanigans of JR!  


The exterior of the house looks exactly as what you saw in the show and you'd almost expect to see Bobby Ewing driving down the long driveway in his red convertible.  

J.R. Ewing (Larry Hagman, left), and Bobby Ewing (Patrick Duffy, right)

Next to the house, what you never saw on the TV show, is the large gift shop and an event center.  This picture of the family was hanging on the wall of the gift shop.

Top Row (L to R):  Sue Ellen, Miss Ellie, Jock, Cliff Barnes, Pam
Bottom Row:  JR, Ray Krebs, Bobby

The next day I flew home.  With the sightseeing and the Fiber Fest, it was a very good visit to the Dallas area.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

DFW Fiber Fest

Has it really been two weeks since I was in Dallas?  How time flies.  The DFW Fiber Fest was a lot of fun and it felt great to get back into teaching knitting again. I taught a class in Intarsia, one of my favorite techniques.  I'm looking forward to teaching more in the future.

Irving Convention Center
The Fiber Fest was actually in Irving, just a short distance from Dallas.  As a matter of fact, you could see the Dallas skyline from the Convention Center.  It was quite warm (81°F/27°C), warmer than I'm used to in April and I loved seeing the flowers, especially the Blue Bonnets along many of the roadsides.


The Market was excellent - so many vendors that I'd never heard of before, many of them indy dyers.

Just a small part of the Market, before it got busy.
Some yarn did follow me home.


I have a Travel Afghan and I make new block with a yarn that will represent the trip to me.

I was torn between two skeins from two different vendors.  One was by Must Stash from San Antonio, TX.  This yarn was red, white and blue as in the US and the Texas state flags.  It also had the DFW Fiber Fest logo on the label.  The color is:  "Elevens - 2016 Fiber Fest".  Eleven refers to the fact that this is the 11th year of the Fiber Fest.

It would have been perfect but for one thing.  Despite how the colors look in the picture, they are actually much lighter.  I found it impossible to take a picture that represent the colors accurately.

The blue, in particular, was off.  It was more of a medium sky blue, or medium baby blue, rather than the rich blue you see on the flag.

The red was also a little on the light side but not off as much as the blue.  If I hadn't found another suitable yarn, I would have used this one.  Instead, I'll make a pair of socks with the skein.

At first glance I thought it was cotton, but it's 75% merino and 25% nylon and will produce 6 uneven stripes when knitted.

The other yarn that I found was dyed just for the Fiber Fest by Knitting Rose Yarns out of Keller, TX, near Fort Worth.


The color is "Texas Wildflowers".  It made a nice addition to my Travel Afghan, hex #10.  I like the way the colors pop on the background of green.  The yarn is 80% Superwash Merino Wool, 10% Cashmere, 10% Nylon.  There might be enough remaining for socks, although I might have to do the heels and/or toes in a complementary color.


Another yarn was calling my name.  I don't buy much green so this was slightly outside of the norm for me, but the greens were so lovely and the gradients moved perfectly from one skein to another. This is from Miss Babs, who wasn't at the market this year.  Her yarn was being sold by the folks in the Signature Needles booth.  This color set is called "Draco".  It's 100% Superwash Merino Wool, 133 yards per mini-skein, 6 shades.  I don't know what I'll make yet but I'm thinking about a yoke pullover.  That's subject to change, of course!


I managed to resist the MadelineTosh yarns, even though I like it lot.  There were so many beautiful options that I would have had a had time picking just one, anyway.  Besides, I'm currently using it as the background for my Talavera Dreams afghan.  The booth was large and the funny thing is that every one of the sales ladies (at least 3 or 4) claimed that her name was Madeline.  Of course, I believe them!


There was an key note speaker at the gathering on Friday night, Sivia Harding.  I've met Sivia a few times and did some test knitting for her a couple of years ago.  Her talk, "Mending Through The Ages" was enlightening.  I didn't know that there was so much more to the topic than fixing a hole in a sock.


I was a student at the Fiber Fest too, taking a class in photographing fibers from one of the Shibaguys.  Good class.

The weekend went by much too quickly, but since I'd never been to Dallas before (I don't count changing planes at the airport on an earlier trip) I stayed on for a couple of days to do some sightseeing.  More on that next time.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Intarsia

I like intarsia ... a lot. I like all the colors, the finished projects and, especially, the challenge.  That was one of the reasons that I took to Kaffe Fassett's designs when I first discovered them. Before that I would knit something like a baby sweater with a rabbit on it. 

Later I discovered a company called Knit-o-Graf (now closed, I believe) and I thought I'd make almost every pattern that was published. I didn't do all of them but I did knit many of them. These were mostly for my daughter in the early to mid-80s, and for her friends. 

These included clowns holding balloons:


Raggedy Ann and Andy, with fringe for the hair:


And poor old Humpty Dumpty - sitting on the wall on the front and laying broken on the ground on the back:



Now, here it is,three decades later and I'm in Irving, Texas, and yesterday I taught a class at the DFW Fiber Fest and totally enjoyed myself.  I hope to do more teaching in the not-too-distant future.  

Thursday, March 17, 2016

HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY!

Top of the mornin' to you!
(And the rest of the day to yourself)

My Mom used to say, "there are only two kinds of people in the world:  those who are Irish, and those who wish they were"!  My ancestors were from Ireland, so St. Patrick's Day was always noted in my house.

Today is a day to be Irish, no matter what your ancestry might be.  If you also happen to be a knitter, it's an extra reason to celebrate.  Just think of all those beautiful Celtic designs and cabled Aran garments for starters. So beautiful.. Here is one site I'm particularly fond off:  Aran Market.  It's eye candy!  I bought a kit for the Donnelly aran (my Mom's maiden name) from them years ago and was very pleased.  Don't ask me if I've made it yet.  It's "aging" like fine wine!

Many years ago I was in Ireland and was surprised that I didn't find much yarn but I did discover the Blarney Woolen Mills and some wool, which came home with me.  There may be more yarn these days, or maybe I was looking in the wrong places.

When I think of Ireland I think how green the country is, the wonderful music and how very friendly I found the people to be.  If you haven't been to Ireland, I would suggest that you go if you can.

If you're also a knitter, I have another suggestion as well.  Last September I went to Scotland and the trip was organized by Jean at Celtic-Journeys.  It was FABULOUS.  Every detail was well taken care of.  It was a trip of a lifetime.  The leader of our group was Amy Detjen.  This September she is taking a group of knitters to Ireland.  I was going to attach the .pdf of the itinerary but I don't see how to do that in Blogger.  Sooo....if you're interested (there are a couple of spaces left) - go here and have a look and download the itinerary from the Celtic-Journeys website.

If you contact Jean directly, her email is:  jean@celtic-journeys.com  and tell her that Joanne sent you!

Does this sound like a commercial?  I'm okay with that.  I like to pass on good information from time to time.  

Sunday, March 13, 2016

First F.O. of 2016

It's taken me until mid-March for my first F.O. (finished object) of the year.  This is primarily due to the fact that I've taken on larger projects such as sweaters and afghans.  I have plenty of knitting on the needles and it feels good to finally finish something.

I joined a group on Ravelry, The Sweet 16 Knitalong [you'll likely need to be a Ravelry member to access this link] in which the goal is to make 16 stranded items in 2016.  I joined for fun even though the chances of completing 16 is highly unlikely.  It's a start, however.

The Winter Snows Mittens were a knitalong project.  It's by the same designer who created the Mini-mitten Advent Garland, which I'm still working on and enjoying.

Click to enlarge

THE DETAILS

Pattern:  Winter Snow Mittens from Just Crafty Enough

Yarn:  Jamieson & Smith 2-ply Jumper Weight
#27 Gray, #1A White and #FC34MIX Blue/green

Needles:  US #1/2.25 mm - double points


Modifications:
  Cast on w/contrast color (blue/green mix), rib 1 row, changed to gray, knit 1 row, then continued in rib

I wanted a shorter, more close-fitting mitten:  worked to round 83, started decreases as on the longer option (for the small-size mitten) on round 84.  Continued with pattern but did decreases to round 97 - no dots on round 96.  Added 2 more rounds of decreases, in gray, to round 98 to end with 22 sts. total. 

Thumb:  Keeping continuity of the fair isle patterning, did not knit rounds 21 and 26 inclusive.

Notes:  This is a good, well-written pattern and I would use it again as a template for mittens in the future.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Pam S.

Rest in Peace, my good friend Pam, who lost her battle with cancer this morning.

She is gone much too soon and will be greatly missed by everyone who knew her.  Our knitting get-togethers at the Corner Bakery will never be quite the same without her.