Thursday, December 30, 2010
Apparently, Canada Post will ship to the military for free until January 7, so if you'd like to knit a few more of these quick and simple hats, please bring them in by Thursday, January 6. We'll get them boxed up and sent on their way to our Canadian soldiers.
If you are coming late to this party, remember that one ball of Galway will make two helmet liners. The free pattern can be picked up at Little Red Mitten.
OR ....here's a quick synopsis of the pattern:
5mm, 16 inch circular needle and 5mm double pointed needles
worsted weight, 100% wool such as Galway
Tension: 18 sts over 4 inches
Cast on 90 sts, join in round being careful not to twist stitches.
Work 4 rounds in *K1, p1* rib.
On 5th round, increase one stitch. (91 sts)
Knit in round until there are 4 inches of stocking stitch above ribbing.
*K11, k2tog* to end of round. Knit one round even.
*K10, k2tog* to end of round. Knit one round even.
*K9, k2tog* to end of round. Knit one round even.
Continue decreasing 7 sts per round (as above) with one fewer stitch between each decrease, alternating with one even round, until 49 sts remain, or this round:*K5, k2tog* to end of round.
Do not work even rounds between the rest of the decrease rounds.
Continue decreasing 7 sts per round until 7 sts remain.
Cut yarn, thread needle, run through remaining stitches, pull tight and weave in ends.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Sunday, December 19, 2010
After a discussion about tension/gauge, this question arose: "So even if I follow the pattern exactly, it still might not turn out?"
Well ...following the pattern means many things. Unfortunately, it's more than just getting the knits and purls in the right place. Perhaps the most important part of following the pattern is getting the same tension or gauge. Knitting a swatch and counting the stitches to check your tension is IMPORTANT.
Check out these examples:
- Imagine that you are knitting a sweater in the round. You have a pattern for a 40 inch sweater that has you cast on 200 stitches. The tension is 20 sts over 4 inches ...or 5 sts per inch. (200/5=40)
- But what if you choose a too-thick yarn, needles that are too big, or you knit loosely? If your tension is 16 sts over 4 inches ...or 4 sts per inch, you are about to create a 50 inch sweater! (200/4=50)
- On the other end of the spectrum, if you've chosen a fine yarn or small needles, or you are a tight knitter, you might get 24 sts over 4 inches ...or 6 sts per inch and end up with a 33 inch sweater. (200/6=33) Surprise!!!
Lastly, you could knit your tension swatch perfectly. Ahhhhh.
After making progress on the sweater and getting comfortable with the pattern, you might relax (or stress out about something) and cause your tension to change.
So, it really is a great idea to check your tension regularly - just get out your ruler and count those stitches.
Does this take the fun out of your knitting? Maybe a bit, but at least you will be following the pattern exactly, and you'll get the results that you want without the nasty surprises.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
I wonder just how much snow there is in Thunder Bay right now. It's -22C and her toes are bare!
So my job is to look after her in any way I can. Two strands of Lamb's Pride Bulky on a 6mm needle -this thing is a three-eighths of an inch thick. At this point, this is all I can do:
It will look like this:
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
"The easiest thing to do in knitting is to make a mistake."
Yikes! My first thought was to protect the other knitters from this sacrilege. How will they ever hope to continue if this is all they have to look forward to!?!?!?!? ...and then I smiled. She was right. "Knit happens."
As a young knitter, I was afraid to fix mistakes. I didn't understand what I was doing with yarn and needles and never stopped to analyse what was happening under my nose. If I attempted a correction, I was sure that my whole project would unravel down to the beginning and I would be a failure. I handed everything over to my Mom and she would magically and quickly put everything right again. It wasn't until I read the book, The Sweater Workshop, by J. Fee that I got over this hump ...and that is when I really started to love knitting.
Learning to fix mistakes is IMPORTANT. While some knitters plough ahead, leaving their mistakes because they just aren't sure how to fix them, others stop in their tracks when they come to a roadblock in their knitting, afraid to go forward or back. A few simple tricks can completely change the way you feel about knitting.
Take a class, read a book, watch a video, ask questions, dedicate some yarn and needles to experimenting. Don't be afraid - it's just sticks and string!
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
It's true. Creativity is about experimenting, playing, exploring, taking a chance, seeing if some little trick will give you the results you are looking for. There are so many options with knitting that there can be something new to learn with each project. As long as you are willing to make a few wrong turns, your destination can be a wonderful, original surprise.
Feel free ...let yourself play!
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Our next deadline will be Dec. 17. The season of giving just got busier :)
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Trying to dress a Teacup Chihuahua for winter was her challenge. She bought a book, yarn and needles, asked questions, problem solved and went for it! Her are the results:
Monday, November 15, 2010
...Gandhi practiced non-violent, non-cooperative protest: he convinced people to spin and weave their own clothes so that British factories would be idle and his people would have rewarding employment.
If we look at North America, spinning and weaving mills were an important part of the fabric of our lives. Everyone knew someone who spun or wove. There was a connection and an understanding about the process ...and about the value of the process. We had control over how we clothed ourselves, and we paid our neighbours to do it. Now, most mills have sold off their machinery to 'developing' countries. We no longer understand or value the skills and the labour that go into the necessities of our lives. Important knowledge and skills are disappearing. Perhaps, like Gandhi, we should be taking back control and making or purchasing locally made items.
With the industrial revolution, factories ended the need for hand knitting, ...but knitters continue to knit. They knit for the love of the craft, for the soothing benefits, for the chance to be creative, for the problem solving and design challenges, for the excuse to commune with friends ...and for a beautiful custom made item.
Knitting, spinning and weaving are "arts with a purpose."
Sunday, November 7, 2010
This seemed to be the theme of my reading this month. Both Handwoven, (Nov./Dec. 2010) by Interweave, and the Wheel, (Issue 22) by Ashford, had articles about the "Slow Cloth" movement. This posting borrows heavily from these magazines.
The slow cloth idea was developed by Elaine Lipson with the philosophy that, "It's all about the process." As she watched crafting gain popularity, often with little attention given to quality or skill, she offered an alternative to that mindset.
She identified several basic principles important to her philosophy:
- We should experience joy in the process.
- We should have moments of peace while we work, moments of contemplation.
- We should honour skill, not instant gratification.
- We should honour diversity and the multicultural history of our textiles.
- We should honour teachers and our long lineage of creativity.
- We should encourage sustainability and the wise use of our resources.
- We should celebrate quality, beauty, community and personal expression.
I think I'll hurry up and slow down. This afternoon, I will take time to enjoy creating with fibre. I will work for the love of it, for the soothing benefits and take advantage of this time to be creative. I hope that you can, too.
You can read more about slow cloth ideas at Elaine's blog:
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
This week, I heard several comments from customers who experience knitter discrimination on a regular basis. They are getting tired of hearing, "What are you knitting, old lady?" ...when we are anything but old. 'Knitting' and 'old' do not automatically go together. And if they are lumped together, it should be in a complimentary way that shows respect to those who have practiced their skills for many years, and who can now practically knit in their sleep; respect for those who want to create something out of mere sticks and string, passing skills from one generation to the next.
....stepping down off my soapbox
Our list of non-traditional jobs/careers for knitters has grown. One reader sent the following to me by email:
"My late husband was an expert knitter, having been taught by his mother when he was ten years old and a new brother arrived in the family. He started knitting baby clothes. He was an electrical engineer and designer by trade and in later years, when health forced him to give up his career, he took up knitting again, and began designing and knitting his own sweaters - Aran knits, and many other styles, with matching caps. Whenever we were out together and someone admired his sweater and asked if his wife had knit it for him, I would proudly declare, "No, he designed and knit that for himself." When he passed away in 2004, I buried him in one of his favourite sweaters, a beautiful Aran cardigan.
In the early 1990's,we had a small knitting business and Neil began teaching knitting. We would gather together several (usually women and their family and friends) who wanted to learn to knit and one of them would hold the classes at her home. He would go there once a week and teach them to knit a sweater. I was the only wife I knew whose husband would go out in an evening with five to six women and I would not be the least bit concerned."
Knitters really are an interesting and varied group - no stereotypes here!
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
How do you react when you hear knitter-derogatory comments such as:
You're not old enough to knit.
My grandmother knits.
I don't have time to knit.
I don't have the patience to knit.
So you went to a knitting group. How old were they? You must have been the youngest one there. There were younger ones there - were they special?
Where's your rocking chair?
These comments get under my skin, so when Jolyn told me about a customer who is a helicopter pilot, we started listing the unusual or untraditional careers that our customers have enjoyed. In a matter of minutes, we added: a helicopter mechanic, an electrician, a dump truck driver, an artist, an advertising exec, an elementary school principal, numerous teachers and nurses, a doula, a doctor, a Bed & Breakfast operator, a couple of lab scientists, a college psychology prof, a chef, a fiction writer, a theatre director, a hairstylist, a police officer, a police dispatcher and several chaplains or ministers.
Sounds to me like we are a capable group who use knitting as a way to unwind from our challenging lives, to satisfy artistic and creative urges and aren't ones to waste time!
Let's end the stereotyping. Take your knitting out in public, speak up for yourself and show the world that knitters rock!
ps. Please post a comment and add your job or hobby to our "rockin' knitters" list.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
My first hint of the challenge was when they told me about the three areas that the local University Women's Club needs to cover throughout their year: social, intellectual and the arts. Hey, knitting topics could cover their whole year in one meeting!
The group will meet at the shop in November to hear what I have to say. As I read and make notes and prepare, I remember that I won't be preaching to the choir. Some of these ladies won't have heard of Ravelry or Stephanie Pearl-McPhee or Knitty. There may be some who don't understand the pull of this "art with a purpose," or who may not, like others in our communities, have great respect for knitting. My job, if I choose to accept it, will be to win them over to the knit side.
Lately, I've been collecting comments from other knitters, comments that they've heard about knitting. And guess what? Many of them aren't all that respectful. In fact, the comment that made me start collecting comments just rots my handknitted socks every time I think about it.
It is the reason for my working title for this talk: "Knitters are the Rodney Dangerfields of the creative world - we don't get no respect!"
Recently, a visitor asked me how I got involved in knitting and why I opened a yarn shop. After my brief explanation, what did he say? Two simple words: "I read."
Maybe I shouldn't have been offended, but there was just a hint of arrogance in his tone. Stunned, I said nothing. What I really wanted to say was, "Hey, I read, too. Sometimes I even read while I'm knitting. Can you do that?"
Don't worry. I kept my mouth firmly closed.
Monday, August 9, 2010
Reconconstruction, and resculpting by local artist, Peter Robson, took another few months, but now Jumbo looks as good as new.
...and perhaps to apologize to the big old guy.
Barnum and Bailey's most famous elephant met his demise on the railroad tracks in our fair city on September 15, 1885.
It will soon be 125 years.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
After I finished my February Lady's Sweater, I felt like looking through my Knitter's Almanac again. Bad move. I cast on for the February Baby's Sweater and a Pi Shawl and then remembered that we have a Baby Surprise Jacket class this week ...which I hope to cast on for tonight in Lamb's Pride Bulky.
The stars must be aligning because it will soon be the 100th anniversary of Elizabeth Zimmermann's birth.
8, 9, 10 - August 9, 1910 - Elizabeth Zimmermann's birthday
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Life was quite different here for awhile and I was starting to wonder if the word "creativity" had left my vocabulary. It seemed that my left brain was in charge of every thought and activity. The only knitting I could handle was projects that were already works-in-progress ....and socks, of course. (I guess that's one great excuse for having multiple projects!) While knitting, there was always something else going on - conversation, travel, movies ... I never allowed my mind and body to just knit.
When life whirls around you and you find your mind jumping from one thought to another, there is no chance to think, dream, imagine or create. As one friend told her children when they complained that they were bored, "Great! Now is when you are the most creative!"
I needed some boredom in my life.
Friday night, after a very full day, I sat in my comfy chair, put my feet up and flipped through the pages of a quilt magazine. I don't think that I read one word. I just looked at the lovely colours, designs, techniques and artistry. In one hour, I worked on 4 different knitting projects: a few rows or rounds was all I could stick with. But as I knitted, I happily ignored a ball game on tv ..and I relaxed. My mind wandered. There were words and ideas in my head at last.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Sleeping Beauty, aka Robin, is on a mission to make people smile
and notice how much life is like a Disney movie
...and she had all of us smiling.
When you visit Little Red Mitten, you just never know who you'll meet!
Read Beauty's blog - http://disneyed.blogspot.com
Hope to see you on Saturday, June 19 between 10 am and 4 pm
for World Wide Knit-in-Public Day
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
I started knitting "my" Zauberball sock as the perfect walk-around project while running our booth at the International Ploughing Match Quilt Show last weekend. The colours are so enticing that we sold all we had (more on order.)
Last night, while decreasing for the toe of sock number one, my husband asked if the sock was for him. Like Cinderella's step-sisters, the sock just barely stetched over his foot, obviously not his size. I don't know about you, but when a non-knitting family member says they like what I'm making, that's it! It's for them. He doth protest, (quite a bit, actually) but it will be frogged and reknitted just for him.
"Crazy" fun - here goes!
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Every chance I got, I wandered among the quilts. The colours, fabrics and designs were a pleasure to absorb. I knew that when I got home, I'd be pulling out my quilt books and magazines and planning a project in a different kind of fibre. Since I've been so-o-o focussed on knitting lately, this also meant digging out my fabrics from a storage area, rearranging work tables and ironing board and reaquainting myself with my sewing tools! I'm happy to say that I can still do it: I finished a simple block yesterday and have a new scrappy quilt project in mind.
As a yarn vendor at a quilt show, we were a bit curious about crafter crossover. As we suspected though, lots of quilters knit and lots of knitters quilt. It's prefectly normal to bounce between projects and artistic mediums!
We 'bouncy types' are in good company: there's Kaffe Fassett, a "colour visionary" and artist who knitted and needlepointed for years before adding quilt and fabric design to his life; and yesterday, I read about Ann Feitelson, author of The Art of Fair Isle Knitting, who won a prize for one of her quilt designs.
Fibre is fibre is fiber. When you love it, you've got to play with it. And we're all perfectly normal ...in spite of what our families might think!
Monday, May 24, 2010
Monday, May 10, 2010
We strolled through the Distillery District, a repurposed 1830's distillery area which is now full of interesting shops, restaurants, galleries ...and even a chocolate factory. (Yes, I bought chocolate ...mmmm. It was Mother's Day, after all!))
In the window of a Scandinavian shop called, "Stockholm House," I found this quote: "Don't make something unless it's both necessary and useful; but if it's both necessary and useful, don't hesitate to make it beautiful." There's some food for thought. I guess that's why sock yarns are so beautiful these days.
At the Textile Museum, 55 Centre Avenue, we found this: "Colour is such a vital and vibrant ingredient of our existence that it is difficult to imagine what life would be like without it." Jill Goodwin, A Dyer's Manual. (I admit, knitting grey stocking stitch socks is a little less inspiring.)
The Russian shawls on display were absolutely amazing. The two ply yarn was incredibly fine, as fine or finer than a strand of silk.
While feasting my eyes on these Orenburg shawls , I found my favourite quote: "There is no bad weather, only bad clothing." Considering it was a cold, blustery May day and we were wearing spring coats ...but should have been sporting winter coats, hats, scarves and mittens, this was very apropos.
Here's a photo of an Orenburg shawl, followed by one of a photographic display:
For more information on Orenburg Shawls, check out the book, Gossamer Webs by Galina Khmeleva.
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
This unusual plant, a fritillaria, comes up in the spring and lasts a week or more. I hope you'll try to check it out when you visit the shop. Look for it below the spruce trees near the back of the parking lot. And in other news, a new chip wagon opened today at the top of the hill called Jumbo Fries. We know the owners (a loyal customer) and their first employee ...and I am positive it will be a quality establishment! Be sure to give it a try!
Monday, May 3, 2010
We took my mother-in-law for a drive to Port Stanley (10 minutes south of us on Lake Erie) and the scenery was spectacular. I'm not talking about the grey lake and the grey sky and the beige sand. I am talking about the lush greens and pinks in the quiet neighbourhoods that felt like they were a world apart from everyday life. People were working in their yards under the huge blossoms of magnolias spreading their branches for all to enjoy. And because I was knitting away on a sock in the back seat, not once did I think of taking a picture ....sigh