Monday, May 24, 2010

Using the Left Hand

Apologies for this late blog. I guess I was a bit distracted with planning a continental and a Fair Isle class. My excuse: since continental and Fair Isle both involve carrying the yarn in the left hand, maybe I got into my right brain ...and couldn't get out!

Seriously, the interest in learning continental knitting has been huge. Perhaps it is because there are so many exciting new projects and techniques to try that we either need more hours in our day or we need to speed up our knitting.

Many people tell us that continental is the way to go: "it's faster and it's more efficient." In many cases, this is true. While I love and usually prefer to knit using the good old right hand carry, I often switch to continental for knitting in the round, for garter stitch, for working on big needles, or when working ribbing or seed stitch.
Like many other knitters, I'm not particularly fond of purling continental. So why do I work ribbing and seed stitch continentally? Because I love the "lazy purl" style of knitting, otherwise known as combination knitting or Eastern Combined Uncrossed.

This method causes twisted stitches which require some simple untwisting maneuvers on the next row or round. It's the quickest, slickest way to rib and it is purported to use less yarn! Because the yarn has less distance to travel between knits and purls, less yarn is used, your tension is likely tighter, your hands have less work to do ...and it's quick.

So if you've ever turned your nose up at the idea of a ribbed or seed stitch scarf ("It's just too much work"), give this method a try and I'm sure you'll feel like you've discovered a better mousetrap!

Designing and knitting these Fair Isle Cowls was lots of fun. The fourth one, which I steeked, is awaiting just the right button.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Some Knitworthy Quotes

What a fibre-filled weekend! We went to the Knitter's Frolic in Toronto, 3 yarn shops and the Textile Museum. There was inspiration everywhere!

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

Neighbourhood Pics

Another gorgeous day, today. I just had to go out and snap a couple of pictures: Here's everyone's favourite elephant, Jumbo. After 25 years exposed to the elements, he's starting to show his age. Repairs should be finished in the summer, in time for the 125th anniversary of his sad demise in September, 1885.

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!

And now for your knitting content:
Did you know that the term Luddite has a connection with knitting?
When large mills started taking away the livelihoods of knitters, spinners and weavers in the early 19th century, Ned Ludd headed a revolt against the mill owners. Since then, the term Ludditism has referred to a movement against the endless mechanization in our lives.
Be a revolutionary: just pick up some fibre and let the rhythm of your favourite 'hands-on' activity enrich your life.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Beauty on a Grey Day

Sunday was one of those almost rainy, damp days where the sun rarely peeks through the solid grey mass of cloud. But it was a beautiful day!

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

But I think that the pretty pink and purple scarf which I worked on that night will be called my Magnolia Memories scarf.