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.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Bebop Socks

I'm getting caught up on posting about finished projects.  Here's another, my Bebop Socks.  This was the exclusive monthly colorway in February, 2016 at The Loopy Ewe.  The yarn was dyed to compliment this photo.  The original is titled Car_0807.

February 2016 - Color: Bebop

My friend, S, and I are having a little knitalong - details are here.  We can make whatever we want as long as we use the color-of-the-month and finish before the month is over.  So far, I'm sticking to socks.  I'm not a fan of pooling, so try to come up with a patterning that will break up the clusters of similar colors.


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

Needles:  US #0/ 2.0 mm

Size:  Medium

Color exclusive to The Loopy Ewe:

Ravelry Link:  Bebop Socks

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Kiwi Socks

At work we've declared Mondays to be "Mad Socks Monday" and several employees wear their wild and crazy socks.  Since I like wild socks anyway, this appeals to me, especially since it gives me an excuse (as if I needed one) to knit less-than-subtle footwear.  This time I made socks that stripe like a kiwi.  Why not?!  I've already made socks in other colorways from the dyer, Abi, e.g. Watermelons and Mardi Gras.  There will be more in the future, I have no doubt.  Bacon & Eggs, perhaps?


Cast on 60 sts., K2, P2 ribbing for 12 rounds, 
Stocking stitch leg for 75 rounds, Short row heel,
 Stocking stitch foot for 50 rounds, Shaped toe.

US #0 / 2.0 mm


Yarn:  Kiwi Fruit Self-striping Sock Yarn
Artistic Yarn By Abi

Ravelry Link:  Kiwi Socks

Friday, February 17, 2017

Recent Finds


It's been a very long time since I listened to a podcast.  I used to listen to 3 or 4 of them, gradually ending up with just one.  I think I finally drifted away after David Reidy discontinued his in, I think, 2012..  Now, just today, I've discovered a video podcast on You Tube that I'm enjoying quite a lot.  I found Fruity Knitting, episode 16, with hosts Andrew and Andrea Doig.  I discovered it because of the Google key word "fairisle" and "podcast", but there is much more than fairisle in this and other episodes.

I'm only halfway through it and I'm already planning to check out the others.  I like the tone of the podcast, the quality of the filming, and the content:  I've just seen what's on their needles in a segment called Under Construction and a visit with knitter/designer Jenn Steingass of Lovewool-Knits, on Ravelry, in their Knitters Of The World segment.  Afterwards, I'm going to check out the pattern that Andrea is knitting:  League by Veronik Avery.  I love the black sweater that she is wearing on the show and I wonder if there is a pattern available for it.


I get email updates from the yarn company Ancient Arts Fibre Crafts, a local-to-me (Calgary), company that dyes yarn in the most fabulous colors. I first discovered them at the Olds Fibre Week in Olds, Alberta a few years ago.  A bit of yarn followed me home then.  A new, limited edition colorway spoke to me recently and I had to order a skein.  It's called From The Ashes:

80% Superwash Fine Merino 20% Nylon 3 Ply Fingering / Sock
525 meters / 578 yds per 150 gram / 5.25ox skein
gauge:  27 - 32 sts / 4 inches (10 cm)  US 1.5 - 3 or 2.5 - 3.25 mm

It's a large skein of yarn, more than enough to knit a pair of socks and then to share with my friend, S.  I haven't chosen a pattern yet.  I want something that will really show off the colors to best advantage.  I'm wondering if just a simple stocking stitch leg will work without any serious pooling of colors.


Going to Colorful Yarns in Centennial, CO is always fun.  I drop in whenever I'm in Colorado and I almost always leave a few dollars behind in the store.  Tiffany (the owner) has many unique, one-of-a-kind yarns that you likely won't see elsewhere and she is always on top of the latest trends and up-to-date on the classics as well.  She is wonderful at supporting indy dyers.  The last time I was there I came across a new-to-me gadget used to keep your stitches on your circular needle when you're not working on your project.  It's called a Needle Keeper.  

It's a light-weight metal tube, open at one end.  At the other end has a rubber (or plastic?) stopper with a slot in which to insert both ends of your circular needles.  They won't come back out unless you pull them out.  I bought a red one.  Sometimes (actually, often) I have more than one project on the needles so I've now added a blue one to my collection of gadgets.  I've learned that these are quite widely available.  Now I know and I'm happy to have found them.  I wonder what I'll find next when I'm in Colorful Yarns in June?


Jamieson's of Shetland (no connection to Jamieson & Smith, by the way), has a short video on their website about how raw fleece is manufactured into yarn and cloth.  I like both companies so much and glad to have had a chance to tour both.  At Jamieson's I bought a lovely sweater, gloves and, of course, yarn.  Here's the link to the video:  Jamieson's.  Given the opportunity, I would be glad to visit both companies again and I would especially like to join in on the knitting get-together at Jamieson & Smith, sitting around the table in the store and knit with the others.

Watching for:

My friend, A, gave me a heads-up about the late winter issue of Vogue Knitting.  I've checked, but it wasn't in the Chapters Bookstore yet.  They had the winter issue, but not the late winter magazine.  I'm told that the issue has quite a bit of Canadian content.  I also like the sweater on the cover.  It's nice to see a new Kaffe Fassett design.

Okay, time to go back to watch the remainder of the podcast and knit my sock.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Knitting A Galley

Jamieson & Smith are hosting a knitalong, the Fire Festival KAL, and I couldn't resist joining.

Here are the parameters:
  • You can make anything you like.
  • You must use at least 5 of the 8 colors that they have listed - no additional colors are permitted. 

  • There must be some Fair Isle in what you're making.
  • Once the Fire Festival knitalong was announced you could start knitting.  The finishing deadline is March 20th.
I've been following the posts on the Ravelry group and the pictures of finished projects are coming in almost daily.  It's amazing what everyone has come up with:  hats, scarves, sweaters....and more.

For my project, I decided to make a cover for my hot water bottle.  To me, there was a sense of symmetry between the Up Helly Aa/Fire Festival event and a hot water bottle - a merging of theme and purpose.

I was going to try to come up with something totally original, but I had come across various patterns that I could combine for mine - and all were free.  There was no need to reinvent the wheel, so to speak.  For the hot water bottle cover I used the Three Seasons in Scotland (Ravelry link) by Hanna Weibye as my template.  The flames were from a pair of socks, Hot Rod Socks and the Viking ship is a graph that I found on the Tricksy Knitter site.

When I put them all together and created a pattern in Excel, I ended up with this:

I decided to add the words -- UP HELLY AA -- in gray, the color of smoke.  I had planned to use 7 of the 8 colors in the version you see, above.  Since then, I've decided to add some fish in the water at the bottom with color #8.  The back and front are the same.

The cover is knitted from the top down and, as of today, I have the top half of the ships knitted so I'm getting close to finishing.  My ships have sails!  I'm really enjoying this.  It's so different than anything I've made before.  Shortly, I'll be back with pictures of the FO (finished object).

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Ready For Mardi Gras

One of my goals for 2017 was to knit socks, as many as I have time for.  I've got lots of sock yarn that I like, and I wear my handmade socks often.  I ended January with two pairs.  Here's the lastest pair.


  Generic.  Cast on 60 sts., K1, P1 Rib for 12 rounds, Stocking Stitch leg for 75 rounds, Short row heel, Stocking Stitch foot for 50 rounds, Shaped toe.

US #0 / 2.0 mm


Yarn:  Mardi Gras Self-striping sock yarn
Artistic Yarn By Abi

Note:  Abi's yarns are colorful and fun to knit with.  I've already made socks with her Watermelon and I have Kiwi on the needles.  I love these Mardi Gras colors.  Here's my Ravelry link.

Laissez les bon temps rouler - Let the good times roll.