Friday, January 31, 2014

A Couple of Two Timing Chickens

I enjoy the magic loop method of knitting any time I have a small circumference to work.  And by small, I mean anything under eighteen inches.  My hands tuck comfortably into the loops and the stitches glide steadily around the needle.  I have learned to avoid laddering at the turning points, and the needle is never lost.

Have you tried the magic loop?  Give it a go. There are lots of videos out there showing how it is done.

And when you're comfortable with magic loop, how about some two-timing?  I have rewritten my Fried Chicken Mitten pattern with detailed instructions on how to knit two mittens simultaneously using the magic loop method.  There are seven sizes: Youth Small, YM, YL, Adult Small, AM, AL, and AXL.

You'll need a skein of rustic, toothy wool in aran weight.  You know, the kind that still smells like sheep.  Your needle must be 40 inches or longer, and with a flexible cable.

This new pattern is seven pages long, with lots of drawings and pictures and tips, and stitch counts all along the way.

Mittens are a portable project easily tucked into a small sack. Folks will be mesmerized by your mad knitting skills.

The pattern is available on the right side of your screen.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Knitting Weekend at Slater Mill

The impact of the textile industry in New England is mind boggling.  The industry affected all: Farm girls helping their families, immigrants in need of work, child labor laws, storekeepers, boarding houses, civic groups, unions, fire safety, housing developments, hospitals caring for the ill, transportation, water rights and river flow.

Slater Mill Library

I have a deep love of automated equipment, especially old textile equipment.  Slater Mill has restored a spinning mule, a braiding machine, a sock knitter, and a circular knitting machine into working order. I am particularly smitten with their warp-face narrow tape loom, similar to the jacquard looms I worked on as a young graduate.

Slater Mill Library

Slater Mill Teaching Facility

I am grateful there are museums such as Slater Mill looking to honor this history, and moreover, celebrate our history through hands-on learning. It is a challenging task, and the kind folks at Slater are hard-working and committed.

Knitting Weekend featured a presentation by Gudrun Johnston on the Shetland Islands, refreshments and live music, a trunk show of Thea Colman's designs, my Dress + Cardigan display, a book signing of Barbara Parry's Adventures in Yarn Farming, a marketplace of outstanding vendors, and classes taught by myself and Thea.

I taught a class on using multi-color variegated yarn. We studied and demonstrated the ways and nature of this challenging yarn, and then we explored pooling, shaping, texture, needle and stitch size, stripes, slipped stitches, stranding, peek-a-boo stitches, and embellishment. And everyone went home with a pastry box of yarn goodies.

I also taught a class on working two Fried Chicken Mittens at the same time on one long needle.  My students were champions: They were all new to the magic loop method, but they bravely jumped right in.

The knitting community is good people. I am convinced.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Dress + Cardigan: Installment 10

Dress no. 10 was sewn last summer at Searsport Shores Ocean Campground.  I was on a week-long sewing bender.  Actually, I was their Artist in Residence for the week, but to me it felt like a self-indulgent fantasy vacation.  I'll be there again this summer, July 20 - 26.  [pause - I'm doing a cheerleader dance move in my seat].

The dress is again made of fabric from Marden's of Maine. Marden's is great for simple cottons, but also odd items like snap tape, good twill tape, industrial zippers, beaded pompom trim (yep, used it), and a bag of snack food for the ride home.  I always go in on a full stomach.

Mary Jane is a cardigan knit in Nash Island Light Wool.  The bearded goats are from Mary Jane Mucklestone's book 150 Scandinavian Motifs: The Knitter's Directory. I love Mary Jane's books (and Mary Jane herself), and this book speaks directly to my craving for whimsy and nostalgia. If you can't wait for it to be shipped, throw on some shoes and run to your local bookstore to get it.  It will make your day.

If I were stranded on a desert island, I would bring my beloved Nash Island Light yarn:  It is fluffy, strong, colorful, supremely warm, and deceptively lightweight. Then I would carve some size 8 circulars and get to work.

I will not be releasing a pattern for this sweater (go get that book!), but I do plan to write a basic pattern using Nash Island Light this year. Between the two, you can fashion your own version.

In other BIG news, I am home from Slater Mill's Knitter's Weekend.  But like the news anchors say on the boob tube, "Story at 11:00" (tomorrow).  It was a Fiber Lover's Gala, a Red Carpet Affair, but with handknits instead of ballgowns.

Dress + Cardigan display at Slater Mill

Monday, January 13, 2014

Dress + Cardigan: Installment 9

Dress no. 9 is another shirt dress sewn in a simple quilter's cotton.  Quilter's cotton is in keeping with the weight and drape of fabric back when women wore everyday dresses.  Come to think of it, I doubt there was cotton manufactured for quilt making like there is today.  Quilts were sewn from scraps and worn items. I think I'll start calling quilter's cotton "the cotton formerly known as dress fabric".

The buttons are large vintage numbers.  I wondered whether I would like them on a dress.  Turns out I do not.  I learned by taking a risk -- I'm happy with that.

The sweater on Eileen (I had to rotate these photos a few degrees) is Cousin Edith, named for another of my grandmother's favorite Pennsylvania cousins.  It is knit in a blue flake cotton, partly on my Singer 360 and partly by hand.

The set in sleeve cap was worked with a shape I am not accustomed to, with the bulk of the 'every other row' shaping located at the bottom of the cap.  I think I will revert to my more rounded sleeve cap, but again, I learned by taking a risk.

In other news, there are still some seats left in my Two at a Time Mitten class at Slater Mill on Sunday, January 19.  Come join me!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Dress + Cardigan: Installment 8

Dress no. 8 is a shirt dress made of crisp cotton purchased at Portsmouth Fabric Company.  I met my friend Julia there for an indulgent visit this summer. Making one's own clothes is a satisfying endeavor.  Add in memories of a visit with a friend and the endeavor becomes more meaningful.  Touchdown, Field Goal.

I had just enough fabric to cobble together only one pocket.

This sweater is knit from my brother-in-law's wool, the first clip spun in 2009.  It is a toothy wool spun from Cheviot sheep.  The color is akin to cilantro: Either you love it or you don't (for the record, I love this color, can't stand the taste of cilantro).

The buttons are vintage.  They have only a small dimple on the public side.

I am really pleased with the gathered effect of the yoke. I believe I'll get lots of wear with this sweater -- it looks sharp with many of my clothes.

In other news, snowmobile season has begun. Here's a snap from today's ride. Our property connects to eighty miles of groomed trails, and that's just our own club system.

I love this season.