Saturday, April 8, 2017

2 New Knitters

I've taught a lot of knitters over the years, but my recent knitting lessons were my most special.  I gave two of my grandkids their very first lesson.

Makayla is 4 and wanted to learn.  Her attention span is short at this age and that's fine, and she's a lefty so it was a bit harder for her.  It doesn't matter.  I'll continue to teach her as long as she wants to know how to knit.

Braydon caught on very quickly and said that he liked knitting so much!  I started by casting on a few stitches and knitting a couple of rows for both of them.  They can learn the cast on later.  For now, I just wanted them to learn and practice the knit stitch.  Braydon, who is 7, wanted to do it himself after he was shown how...and he did well.

Both were happy with their little knitting kit which included a set of 4 mm plastic needles, 4 colorful balls of DK weight yarn, a little Gromit the Dog instruction book and a red plastic bag with yellow handles to keep it altogether. I bought these little kits a number of years ago - I don't remember where.  I'll have to keep my eyes open for another kit for granddaughter #2 who is just 1.

I've often heard people say that they learned to knit from their grandmother.  At the time I never thought that someday I would be that grandmother, but I am so happy that I am.

Way to go, kids!  We'll be doing more knitting soon.  xoxo   Love, Grandma Jo

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Sock Mojo & Podcasts

My sock mojo is in full gear right now.  I finished up my March socks with the 2016 colorway from The Loopy Ewe for the little knitalong that my friend, S. and I are doing.  Then, last night I cast on for another sock that I've called "Verb" using the leftover yarn from block #15 of my Travel Afghan.  The sock went very quickly and I finished it today.  With the "From The Ashes" sock, I now have two single socks that need their mate.  I'll be working on them as my main projects this week because next Saturday is cast-on day for the April socks and I don't want 3 single socks.  I'd like to have full pairs!
While knitting I was watching a couple of video podcasts on You Tube.  One is Fruity Knitting that I've mentioned before and is my favorite.  I also watched Sticks & Twine.  The host talked about a Brooklyn Tweed knitalong that he has started as well as a visit to the Edinburgh Yarn Festival and a side trip to Amsterdam and Stephen West's shop, Stephen & Penelope.  The Edinburgh Yarn Festival is on my bucket list.

Here are the Clickety Clack socks for March:


Pattern:  Cast on 60 sts, stocking stitch leg and foot,
short row heel, shaped toe.

Needles:  US #0/ 2.0 mm

Size:  Medium

Color exclusive to The Loopy Ewe:
"Clickety Clack"

Ravelry Link:  Clickety Clack

Notes:  The colors come from the picture, below.

I was pleased that there was no real pooling.  The yarn looked like it wanted to pool but the stripes helped to break it up.  While these aren't my favorite colors, the socks will get lots of use.

Next month:  Dancing Dandelion

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Voting Has Begun

Earlier this year I joined the Jamieson & Smith "Fire Festival KAL".  It was great fun to decide what to make using the colors that were required.  I made a cover for my hot water bottle.  There were so many creative projects from sweaters to scarves and cowls to hats to gloves to socks....the list goes on and on.

Now Jamieson & Smith has created a link on their website where you can see all of the finished creations in one place.  It's time to vote for your favorites.  Of course, I voted for my own.  How could I not?  And, I voted for one of the sweaters.  If I'd had more votes, I would gladly have picked some others items as I like many of them.

If you want to check out the finished projects, the link is here.

Now, I'm not asking you to vote for me, but..... if you do (and anyone can), this is what my entry looks like on the site... and, thank you for your support!

I wonder what goodness J&S will come up with next.  I hope it's nothing too tempting as I have a couple of sweaters to finish.  So much great knitting to do, so little time.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Fair Isle Workshop

The reason for my trip to Berkeley was to take a workshop with Janine Bajus and it was fabulous.  I learned so much about color, design, techniques, hints and tips.  I was totally blown away with how much knowledge she has about fair isle knitting.

The workshop was held in her home and limited to 5 students.  We were made comfortable from the moment we walked through her door.  Introductions were made and we gathered in the kitchen to start each day with bagels and coffee and tea.  Then, we settled around the table and Janine gave us detailed information about fair isle, what it is, where it's from and what distinguishes it from other techniques.

Color is an important first step, so we looked at the inspirational pictures that we had brought with us, discussing the way colors work together, or they might work in a photo but not in a garment.  The only way to be sure about your colors is to swatch.  Next, we were shown the "playpen" which contained at least one ball of every one of the 225 colors of fingering-weight Spindrift that Jamiesons makes.  Janine dazzled us with how she can remember the name and number of every one of the 225 colors and recognizes them on sight, even those that are close together.

We learned about values, color families, speed swatches, mirroring, color placement and the color tool.  Then we swatched, first a simple swatch and then more complex swatches.  We discussed, we analyzed and we learned from our own swatches and from each others.

It was a good group and, along with the knitting, there was lively conversations.  Sometimes we strayed a bit off topic but were gently guided back to project at hand.  It was all very enjoyable.

From there we started thinking about the motifs we'd like to try out and looked through books and magazines to find inspirations and to do some planning.  Janine taught us how to think about color and how to work it into our designs to best advantage.  She showed us her vast collection of sweaters and explained why the colors were chosen and placed as they were.  To me, the design process is fascinating. One of the techniques I'm going to use right away is how she does her steeks with a crochet much easier and better than using the sewing machine, in my opinion.

As a bonus, we met Janine's family, including Mason, the dachshund.  He charmed everyone!  Janine spoiled us with freshly-baked, warm cookies every afternoon.

On the last day, I excused myself just a bit early.  As I had such a short visit to the Berkeley area, I wanted to get in some sightseeing.  Janine planned out a route for me to take through the Napa Valley and the scenery was amazing and beautiful.  I even found time to take a detour to Fairfield and visited the Jelly Belly factory.

This is just a very small amount of the Jelly Belly candies that I saw.
I learned so much, had a great time, loved seeing palm trees and leaving the snow in Calgary behind.  I would not hesitate to recommend Janine's classes or workshops or designs to anyone.  She is an expert and this Master Class was everything I hoped it would be and much more.  I've only talked about a small fraction of the curriculum of the workshop.  I would definitely take a class with her again.

Oh, and yes, some wool followed me home.  I don't normally wear vests or a lot of pink but when I saw the Rosebud Vest "in person", I knew that I had to make it, so I bought the kit.  I'm looking forward to starting.

Janine, if you're reading this..... A huge THANK YOU from me.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Avenue Yarns and Lacis

Avenue Yarns is a wonderful shop in Albany, CA with lots of tempting yarns and supplies and friendly people in the shop. I enjoyed talking to Ray and Jody. I was surprised and impressed that they had copies of the book about Shetland Wool called "Oo". 

This is only some of what I saw in Avenue Yarns.  I'd be happy to pull up a chair and start knitting with the yarns on the left and work my way around the room. 

They had some gorgeous garments on display and ended up buying a pattern for a sweater for The Ropes by Graeme Knowles-Miller.  It's a fairly plain pullover with some cable accents - a practical and pretty design. 

If I lived in this area I would probably be visiting this shop often.

Visiting Lacis was a must while in Berkeley. I'd heard about this store for many years.  It's not a yarn store but a museum of lace and textiles as well as a retail store.  

If I ever find myself in need of the understructure for a hoop skirt I know where to come.  They are hanging from the ceiling like lamp shades. 

As well as lace making supplies, everything you can imagine, they have a huge selection of books for a wide variety of craft and textile interests. 

You can spend a lot of time just browsing in Lacis, and I did. I'm finding this shoos in the area to be varied and eclectic. 

Thursday, March 2, 2017


It was a good first day in California. I saw trees. I saw flowers. I saw flowering trees. The weather is beautiful, sunny and warm and not a flake of snow to be seen anywhere!

I did lots of sightseeing and, of course, I had to visit a yarn shop - well, I actually visited two. The first one I visited is in Oakland - A Verb For Keeping Warm.


They carry yarn, dyeing materials, fabric, magazines and more. 

Dyeing is a big part of what the store is known for.  It's done in the yard behind the shop.

I believe that the owner is the dyer.  She dyed all of these swatches using cochineal.  It's hard to believe you can get so many variations in a color.

One of the main reasons that I wanted to visit this shop was to get a skein of their  hand-dyed yarn for my Travel Afghan.  I always try to pick something that is unique to the place I'm visiting and this is an ideal choice, and a very nice yarn..  

They've named this weight and fiber combination "Annapurna". This particular skein is a limited edition colorway, dyed with cochineal.  Even the dye date is on the label: 2.19.17, a recent vintage.  

The details are:  80% Superwash merino, 10% cashmere, 10% nylon. 385 yards/4 oz, fingering weight. I'm looking forward to adding it to my travel afghan. 

The second shop that I visited today is Avenue Yarns in Albany, CA., a very nice shop that I'll write about another time. 

Tomorrow is Day #1 of three of the workshop with Janine Bajus.  I'm looking forward to it.  

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Monday, February 27, 2017

Fair Isle Knitting/Designing/Learning

If you want to know more about Fair Isle knitting and designing, where do you go?  Well, Berkeley, California, of course!

I'm lucky enough to be attending a 3-day workshop with Janine Bajus, also known as the Feral (Fair Isle) Knitter.  I've heard so many glowing reports about her workshops that I was sure that I'd learn a great deal from her.

Her book, The Joy of Color, is proof of the breadth of her knowledge.  I reviewed her book here.  It's excellent, a text book that will not "go out of style".

As much as I hate to leave winter and snow behind (I say, sarcastically), I'll be in California, learning the intricacies of the knitting of Fair Isles.  I think I'm up to the task!

Excerpt from The Joy of Color
Click to enlarge
I'm also going to do some sightseeing while I'm there and, of course, visit a yarn store.  I'm intrigued by one that I've heard about called A Verb for Keeping Warm.  It sounds like it is somewhat similar to another shop that I visit often in Denver, Fancy Tiger.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

It Started With A Sweater

I've been drawn to Shetland and Fair Isle for many, many years....even decades.  I still remember my first Shetland sweater as it was a favorite.  It was a plain cardigan in a nice shade of yellow.  I was 15.  At that time, Shetland was just a word to describe a certain type of wool for a sweater.  I don't know if I even realized that it was place then.  I probably didn't think about it one way or the other.

I don't remember a time when I didn't knit, and over the years my knitting included more and more colorwork:  lots of intarsia in the 80s when I was knitting children's sweaters, and then I discovered Kaffe Fassett,  Jean Moss, other Rowan designers, Rowan yarns, and Alice Starmore.  It was a thrill to meet her in the fall of 2015.  I knitted her Marina pattern as a pullover and it still looks new today even though it's been about 25 years since I made it.

Sometime in the 90s I bought a Croft.  Okay, it's a miniature of a Croft, 2-inches tall to the top of the chimneys, made by Lilliput Lane.

I now knew about the Shetland Islands, but mostly I knew that I liked this little house and the fact that there were sheep in the back:

Then, sometime in the early 2000s I dropped into the gift shop at University of Colorado Hospital and saw this and had to take this cute sheep in the fair isle sweater home with me:

By this time I knew about the Shetland Isles but never dreamed that I'd go there, not once, but twice. I've always liked fairisle knitting, but it's been my main focus and interest since visiting.  There is nothing like being in Shetland where textiles are a way of life - visiting the museums, Jamieson's, Jamieson & Smith, and meeting some of the local people, including knitters and designers.  

Another story that I smile about now:  in about 1990 or 1991 I went to a computer show.  Home computers were pretty new and I knew very little about them, and nothing about the world wide web.  I was talking to one of the exhibitors and he said that you could "visit" other countries and companies.  I found this fascinating and rather hard to believe.  He offered to show me and said that I should name a company or place and he would see if they had a website.  I asked for Jamieson & Smith, and he found it.   J&S was the first place I saw on the web.

And now, I'm building on my interest (some might call it an obsession).  More in the next blog post.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Fire Festival Knitalong - Finished

I've been moving right along with my projects lately.  Undoubtedly things will slow down once it starts to warm up outside and life gets busier.

My latest finished project is a cover for my hot water bottle.  Late in 2016, Jamieson & Smith announced that they were hosting a knitalong.  The deadline is March 20th.  The theme is Shetland's Fire Festival, Up Helly Aa.

You could make anything you wanted as long as you used at least 5 of the 8 colors they listed, and no others.  Also, you had to include some fairisle knitting.  I thought about different items - scarf, mittens, sweater, hat, but finally decided that what I really wanted to make was a cover for my naked hot water bottle.  At first I thought I'd design something myself, but on looking through some free patterns on Ravelry I discovered what I was looking for was available and there was no need to re-invent anything...except for the fish at the bottom, which are mine.


hot water bottle cover used as a template.

Needles:  US #2.5 / 3.0 mm
and US #3 / 3/25 mm

Size:  One size

Yarn:  All Jamieson & Smith 2 ply Jumper Weight

I'm working on another knitalong project, this time from the island of Fair Isle.  I'll have more time to work on it now.  The deadline for it is in March.