I haven’t done all that much stranded knitting in my life.  I suppose it’s because I haven’t had to.  Karen Walter is a great one for stranded knitting and makes lovely projects and teaches wonderful classes, so I don’t need to.  I have to say, though, that when I do a small project of some kind using this technique, I enjoy working the little “peerie” patterns the most.

Peerie means small in Scottish, and the peerie patterns in Fair Isle knitting use only two colors across any round and are short repeats both stitch-wise and row-wise.  It’s easy to get into a rhythm with them, and their appearance is delicate and decorative.  Here are a few examples from Ravelry:

Kate Davies has done some beautiful designs, and if you’re interested in ethnic history of knitting in Northern Europe and the British Isles, you’ll learn a lot from her blog, as well as seeing some of the most glorious photography you’ll ever experience:

Carraig Fhada

Machrihanish

Peerie Flooers

Alice Starmore literally wrote the book about Fair Isle knitting (Alice Starmore’s Book of Fair Isle Knitting). Packed with history and technical details plus page after page of charts for traditional stitch patterns, it’s an amazing resource.  It also has sweater patterns and very scary instructions for making and cutting steeks.  You can look at her patterns on Ravelry but she doesn’t sell patterns there.  Her designs, except for the books she has published, are available as kits only.

Anyhow, all this is leading up to telling you about the sweater Karen is going to teach this fall, starting late in September.  First Fair Isle is a beauty, featuring loads of pretty peerie patterns and modern top-down construction.

 The Fair Isle patterns are at the bottom of the body and sleeves, so they’re in the round, not interrupted by steeks or shaping, and all the fun comes at the end!  This is Karen’s version:

Karen used Cumbria Fingering from Fibre Company, a lovely choice for this project. Its blend of traditional British sheep’s wools give the colors a heathery depth, and the addition of a smooch of mohair adds loft and sheen.

One of the most pleasurable aspects of stranded knitting is choosing the colors.  It’s also one of the most fraught aspects.  Karen was a bit disappointed in the lack of contrast between a couple of the colors she used (although I like the subtle differences).  Plus it’s very difficult to visualize what the patterns will look like with other colors.  The solution?  Coloring the chart!  The other day I pulled out my old colored pencils and got as close to some of the Cumbria colors as I could, and had a great time playing around.

The chart patterns start right under the bustline and travel down to the hem, so they’re shown in reverse order on the chart.  The one below shows colors similar to the book’s sample.

This teal and green version is quite pretty.

And I like this one, with greens and a pop of copper:

This one is different in that I used a dark gray as the main color and went brighter at the bottom:

Well, I thought this would make choosing colors easier, but I still would have a hard time deciding!

Come in and do some coloring!

 

 

 

Many people think of spring as the season of renewal. I tend think of fall as the season of new.  It’s probably a holdover from school days, when fall meant new clothes and new shoes, new teachers, new books, sometimes a new building and always new classes and new things to learn.  I still think of fall as a freshening breeze, crisp days and cool nights, crunchy leaves and Siamese-cat-eye-colored skies, renewed vigor and, of course, the beginning of knitting season.

Have you thought of new projects for the coming year?  Turtlenecks are making a comeback – love them or hate them?

Big cable knits are still everywhere.

 Tunics are still being shown

but there are a few shorter styles.

Color work is popular – graphic intarsia as well as stranded or striped.

 

 

Classic fisherman rib is always popular

and can also be not-quite-so-classic:

All the images above are from Nordstrom’s website.  If you want to spend $450 – 1200 on a sweater, you can have them, no knitting involved!  I use their website for inspiration for what I’d like to make this fall.  We all have different body types and issues, but for me, I’m reluctant to wear big chunky tunics (I look like the Hobbit) or turtlenecks that are too high or bulky (a hold-over from my hot flash era) or big graphic images (not wanting to come off as the side of a really short barn).

I would like a shorter cable knit, though, and I’ve always liked this one, which I think is a good transitional style for fall.  I would make it as shown, in Luma, Fibre Company’s wool/organic cotton/silk blend:

or this nice little gansey :

in Plymouth’s DK Merino Superwash.

I also like this one, maybe scaled down a bit:

in Ella Rae’s Classic Sport, a nice woolly kind of wool.

I wouldn’t mind a turtleneck this year, as long as it wasn’t too overwhelming. I’m old, so I have neck issues along with my hot-flash PTSD.  Maybe this:

because it’s done in lace weight and the collar is loose.  It would be incredibly yummy in Road to China Lace.

And this looks wearable and comfy:

I may experiment with two strands of Lang’s Lusso (coming soon to the shop, with wool/silk/camel/mohair- yum!) held together.  Debby Andrews is currently knitting this sweater in Lana Grossa’s Arioso, which will be absolutely lovely, too.

As for colorwork, I love the sweater that Karen is going to be teaching this fall – more about that next time! – and I also love this light little striped pully.  Some color packs of Fino are coming soon and I think this would be fabu using one of Fino’s lovely semi-solids along with a color pack:

Fisherman’s rib really is classic, but it’s a time-and yarn-intensive stitch.  How about this cute capelet instead, in a rich color of Worsted Merino Superwash?  Or I might try it in one of my favorite combinations, Fine Donegal (wool/cashmere) held together with Herriott Fine (baby alpaca/nylon), tweedy and lush all at the same time:

There are so many things to get excited about for fall…can’t wait!

 

 

It’s been a while since I posted, and there’s so much to talk about and show you that I don’t even know how to start.  I want to show you customer projects from this summer, but I also want to show you new yarns that have been coming in, and I also just want to ramble on about this and that.

I’ll start with some customer projects today:

Susie Drake took Karen’s Eternal Optimist class this summer and brought in her completed scarf to show.  The color is stunning and the beads are beautiful accents:

Mary Ellen Leidy took Karen’s Modern Wrapper Fine class in the spring, just after getting a new puppy!  It took a little while to finish the wrapper, in between walks, play, and training sessions for Keiko, but she did it!  It’s a beautiful fit, a beautiful color, and beautiful workmanship:

Cindy Schuchart took my Corella hat class this summer, in between vacations with a house full of kids and grandkids.  She made a beautiful hat and got comfortable with charts as well.

Cindy also made this pretty poncho for her daughter-in-law from our in-house free pattern.  Finished in plenty of time for fall, the poncho is perfect!

Virginia Griffith made this great open-work tunic from two colors of Shibui Twig.  (So sorry for  the photo. Take my word for it, it’s really pretty!)

Debby Andrews finished this pretty feather-and-fan tam, then made a cowl in the same stitch pattern to match.  She’s all set for cool weather:

Anne Alderman made these two good-looking summer tops, plus one or two more, plus some hats…and on and on…!

Jill Pelchar made this great hoodie for her daughter, who models it beautifully!

Linda Seifarth loves small projects.  She made the adorable hat and the in-process headband for a grand who, I think, is heading to Penn State. The beautiful Touch-Me scarf is in her own favorite color.  The headband pattern and the scarf patterns are ours and are free with purchase:

Anne Nordhoy made up her own bunch of blocks for this afghan, made from scraps from other projects.  It’s amazing!

However, the belle of the blog has got to be this challenging sweater Amy Wall made for her nephew Joey – cables, steeks and all!  He obviously adores it; you don’t see bigger smiles than this:

Many thanks to everyone who sends me photos or takes the time to bring in finished projects.  It’s a real joy to see them!

 

 

The cardigan from my last post, Aileas, is proceeding apace.

As you can see, I did the sleeves before completing the body, just to get them out of the way.  The faux-cables are fun to work:

and are included on the sleeves:

so that even the sleeves won’t bore you to pieces.

I’m just about to add some columns of cables that will accent the back and set off the pockets so things are moving along.  I’ll probably whine at you just a bit when I’m partway through the bottom ribbing – there’s a bunch of it!

We got some really beautiful yarn in from Plymouth this last week.

That’s “Estilo” to the left and center, 10 fabulous colors of wool and silk lusciousness in a fingering/light sport weight.  Karen already snagged 2 colors to make a shawl that she may teach in the fall!  Here’s just one skein of the elegant steel blue:

The other column of beautifulness is “Reserve Sport” a blend of merino, milk, and bamboo that reminds me very much of a hand-dyed Nuna (one of our favorite drapy, shiny, slithery yarns).  I for some reason got the bug to crochet something a couple weeks ago, and since my skills are basic and my speed is snail-ic, I needed something really easy.  Reserve Sport is nice for crochet because it has built-in drape due to its fiber content, and while helping another customer, I came across this pretty and simple cowl called Tembetari.  So I’m trying it out.  After 3 hours, this is what I’ve accomplished:

Impressive, no?

I’m going to stick with it.  The yarn is delightful, and I sorely need the practice!

 

Accuweather tells me to expect high 80’s – 90 degree temperatures and lots of humidity for the foreseeable future (like I need them to tell me that – it is July, after all); therefore I have developed an insane desire to knit a lovely big woolly cardigan.

This happens to me every summer.  I spend much of the end of winter and all of spring knitting summer yarns into light tops, and by now, my hands, eyes, and needles yearn for the knitting goodness of a true 100% wool. I started stocking Plymouth Homestead last fall but never got around to making the nice warm cardigan that was in my head when I ordered it.  It’s not an expensive yarn and there are always models to be made for pricier yarns and for those that are tough to visualize as a knitted something until you can see it or touch it as a finished item.  Homestead is just nice wool, spun in Peru, and it’s so traditional, with nothing very sexy going on, that it’s easy to ignore in favor of other softer, multi-colored, fluffier or whatever yarns distract you when you’re in the shop.

However, its time has come.  I chose this wonderful sheepy color:

and began to swatch:

and all of my woolly desires were satisfied!

It will become this pretty and cozy cardigan from Isabell Kraemer called Aileas:

which I love because of the faux-cables that are easy to work and won’t slow you down too much but add a lot to the look.  I love the pockets.  I love the deep rib.  I love the fold-over collar, which in my case will be lined with a coordinating? matching? contrasting? (Don’t know yet) color of Herriott Fine, which is soft, soft alpaca.  Hey, I’m not a particularly itch-sensitive gal but even I don’t want woolly wool against my neck all day.  This pretty pink version shows a contrasting lining:

Sweet, right?

Speaking of sweet, look at what popped in the door the other day:

It’s the latest offering from Zen Yarn Garden’s Artwalk series, based on this painting:

Willem de Kooning’s Garden in Delft.  Marci Frey came in as I was opening the package and we had a pretty good time running all over the shop to find some things to spark up the pretty colors (Marci loves bright!):

Come get yours!

I’m in a pretty cool place right now, knitting-wise.  I’ve almost finished all the class models and summer models I had planned to do. (Plus at least one that I hadn’t planned – see below.)  I still have to finish off the fingers of the second Winter Bride glove and that’s taking me a while.  The whine factor in this is pretty high: (1)  it’s the second glove, (2) it’s little tiny stitches and little tiny diameters, and (3) I’m not so hot at using double-points, in fact I’m pretty slow and clumsy with them.  Two more fingers to go,

and it will be done soon enough and then I’ll soon love it again.

But really, whining is a part of knitting.  Knitters love to whine!  If you could ever find a knitting project that only took 10 minutes, I guarantee that the last 2 minutes would involve complaining about how it’s taking forever and why can’t it just be done already???!! We are patient and persistent folks, but we feel no need to be quiet about it.

So anyway, my decks are pretty clear right now, which gives me a great excuse to browse Ravelry and think about new projects.  Brooklyn Tweed’s new Wool People collection came out recently – nothing made me gasp with delight but there are plenty of nice sweaters there.  What I really want is to live in Jared Flood’s photographic world, wherein I would be prettily posed in an attitude of quiet confidence, in a perfectly fitting sweater, flatteringly accented by diffused sunlight at all times.

So while I think about new projects, I’m going to make Brother-in-Law socks (they will be moving to Charleston in a year or two and I think his need for wool socks will drop dramatically.)  I plan another hoodie for Maxwell the Great (Nephew) because his mom says the summer one I made is his favorite thing to put on (and how sweet is that to hear?) and he’ll soon outgrow it. And I have in mind to go through our huge file of free shop patterns, updating and making new models from current yarns where needed.

That really should keep me quite busy and my schedule full, but I do get distracted.  I had no plans whatsoever to make the Refined Arches Tabard but as soon as I saw the pattern, I knew it would be a perfect project for Shibui Twig.  I had to make it! And so I did.

It’s airy and open for summer in Twig, and would be a nice layering piece in lightweight wool or lace weight mohair for fall.  I would say it’s an intermediate project because, even though it’s all lace, every other row is a rest row and there’s no shaping.

 

We have lots of classes starting in July (it’s almost here!!!) including a beginner class.  If you have been on the fence, now is the time to commit; most have only one or two spaces left.  Socks, mitts, hat, sweater and a chicken!  What more could you possibly want?

I hope you’re having a wonderful summer and accomplishing everything you planned – or nothing at all!  Have fun!

Well, it was fun, and it’s almost over, and I have to admit I’m glad.  I don’t know about you, but when I’m at loose ends for too long, I tend to fall into bad habits – the same bad habits I fight against all the time: too much couch time, too many snacks, too few chores or useful projects.  I did enjoy the first half, though.  I went to my home town for a bridal shower for the daughter and future son-in-law – both so sweet – of one of my cousins.  It was given by the daughters of another of my cousins, and it was great seeing all those lovely folks again.   Another day, I got to have brunch with Maxwell the Great (Nephew) and of course, his mom, dad, and grandmother. He’s cuter than cute, and despite his mother’s warning, there was no food-hurling.  He was very, very good!

I also bought some wonderful yarn for the fall and thought wistfully about the big yarn show in Columbus, which is happening this coming weekend.  Really, it’s better if I don’t go, I just get into trouble (inventory-wise, not in any interesting way) but – all that beautiful yarn in one place!!!!

The only knitting I did was to finish Pearl, the sweater I’m teaching later this summer.  It knit up like a dream in Plymouth’s Worsted Merino Superwash.  I made it in PINK (extreme pink-ness) and it’s pretty cute.  I can only do a bad photo right now because it’s still damp so I dare not stretch or hang it, but here it is:

I made two modifications to this version:  (1) I used German short rows instead of wrap-and-turns for the shoulders and the sleeve caps, and (2)  I did only 1 lace motif at the neckline and didn’t carry it down the front, just to show that you can make it this way if you wish to.  The next one I do (which will be while the class is knitting it) will have the lace the whole way down the front.

See how happy she looks? I like the verticality of the lace column, and it won’t be so tedious to knit the body.  The lace is pretty and worth the effort.

In fact, I like everything about this sweater and would be happy to have several in many different colors and fabrics in my wardrobe.  I like 3/4 sleeves, but it would be easy to carry them down to full length. The neckline is flattering and is finished with a neat I-cord bindoff.  The picked-up sleeves have short row caps which are interesting to work, and you can choose whatever your favorite method is to work the sleeves in the round (I used magic loop – if you don’t know how, learn it in our Magic Loop Mitts class.  The classes overlap a little but you’ll know the technique by the time we get to the sleeves and using it in a different application will reinforce your knowledge.)

The length of the sweater is great and easily adjustable, and the a-line silhouette is perfect for my body and easily eliminated if you aren’t quite so cursedly pear-shaped. The light worsted weight wool is good for at least 6 months of the year here. plus it’s machine-washable.  I may end up finishing the drying in the machine, too, just to see how that works.

To sum up, I couldn’t be more pleased with this pattern and the yarn and the result!  Classes are filling up nicely (I love this summer’s schedule) so check them out here.  And heads up if you’re intrigued by lace knitting and beading – Karen’s Eternal Optimist knit-along starts on June 15th! The link will take you to some beautiful projects on Ravelry – then come in to see Karen’s version in person – it’s simply luscious.

By the by, we’ll be closed Saturday June 17th because of Art on the Avenue – you know the drill: no parking, lots of crowds and kids and dogs so lots of frenetic barking on the part of Purl and Jack, lots of hair-pulling and yelling on the part of me – so, sorry!

The summer class schedule has been posted to our website, and I’m so glad the work is done, and I’m also just as pleased as I can be with the roster of classes.  They’re all fun, beautiful projects, all varied in skill levels and I really think that anybody could find something to interest her (or him) in this list.  Check them out here and see what fits into your schedule for the summer.

I had (and am still having – not all are done) a great time knitting some of the projects. The variety of types of projects and the different yarns and techniques have really sparked my knitting mojo, which wanes just like everyone’s from time to time.  After knitting several relatively simple projects using summer yarns, it was pure pleasure to pick up some yummy wools and blends and remember how lovely the process of knitting can be and what fun it is to have to pay attention and concentrate on more complicated patterns.

The Cable and Coin Lace Pillow is a great addition to your favorite couch or chair, a guest room or a den.  I used Ella Rae’s Chunky Merino Superwash,

a tough 100% wool yarn that really is machine washable and dryable.  I know because I tested a swatch by throwing it into the washer and dryer with a load of jeans.  It held up beautifully, even with such terrible treatment, so I know I can really use the pillow without fussing.  You could also double good old Encore to get the same gauge and the same hardy washability. I don’t generally knit with brown for clothing (don’t know why), but this warm shade looks great with my couch’s winter coat, don’t you think? And the orange buttons are just fun. The pattern comprises a simple 3/3 cable and coin lace which is fun to work and difficult to mess up!

Karen is doing a knit-along for this fabulous Eternal Optimist scarf (or shawl), made from Road to China Lace, a lighter version of Road to China Light, a perennial fave that is luscious and luxurious.  One beautiful skein (plus beads, needle, pattern) is what you’ll need for our knit-along on Thursday evenings (starting June 15).  Every section is different, interesting, and fun to do, and the cunning little dangles are really charming. You’ll be completely confident in the face of lace designs once you’ve worked your way through this lovely piece.

Meanwhile, I’m having a quietly exciting time making these Winter Bride’s Gloves.

Now, I already know that you don’t need gloves, you don’t wear gloves, you don’t know anyone who’s getting married outside in December.  This is not a project you do because you or someone you know needs to keep their hands warm.  You don’t think, well, poor Myrtle’s hands are always cold so I’ll make her the fussiest, most time-consuming gloves I can find.  This is the kind of project you do because the gloves are lovely and because you are a knitter and you can make them. Someday you (or someone) will take them out of the tissue paper you’ve wrapped them in, waiting for the appropriate moment to wear them or the right person to give them to, and will gasp at the expertise of the person who made them (even if it was you.)  It’s enough to know you made them – that’s all I’m sayin’.  I’m making them in a totally impractical ice-blue color of Herriott Fine, a softly fuzzy alpaca blend.

I’ve really just started on Pearl, the pullover we’re teaching later in the summer.  I absolutely love working with Plymouth’s Worsted Merino Superwash, very soft and bouncy, a real dream to knit with.  I hope I’ll have photos next week, but I’ll be hither and yon on my week off, so I don’t know.  If you know you want to make it, come in and look at the color cards and I’ll add your favorite to my stock order that’s due in July.

You know we’ll closed next week, right?  You do read emails from me, right?  If not, you also may not know that wonderful Tenzing is on sale because it’s being discontinued (a little sob is catching in my throat).  I used it to make Corella, the hat that I’m teaching this summer, and you also may remember it from our many wonderful models: Curcuma Elements, Natsumi, Groovy, and many (many) more.  You can always tell how we feel about a yarn – those we love we just keep making models because we can’t keep our hands off the yarn.  It would also be splendid for our Magic Loop Mitts class. Come and see!

 

Our customers are so talented and creative and incredibly patient to put up with my terrible photos and my constant pleas of “Can I take a picture?”  I really love seeing finished projects and I hope you do, too!

I’ve linked to patterns on Ravelry when I know them:

Jill Pelchar finished her sampler afghan in Encore Tweed (the booklet is available in print at the shop) from our class last fall/winter.  Pretty colors, and cozy, too:

She also did this wonderful poncho in two colors (doing intarsia for the cable insert) of Huasco DK.  I love the way she looks in it! Sorry, I don’t know the pattern:

Jane Brubaker completed her Modern Wrapper Fine from Karen’s class using Tenzing, and as usual has accessorized it beautifully with a Chevron cowl (pattern is free-with-purchase of yarn at the shop):

Kathleen Delong recently learned to knit, but you’d think she had been doing it all her life.  Her first project class was the Forest Park cowl, then she made our Adult Ribbed Hat (a free-with-purchase pattern at the shop):

then on to the Wildflower cowl (also free-with-purchase):

and she just this week finished her Simple Tee (I’ll have pictures after blocking) and has three more sweaters lined up! Amazing!

Anne Nordhoy, as always, has done an expert job on three intricate projects:

a little tennis sweater which she designed and knit for the new baby of a tennis fan:

this complicated scarf in Zauberball from a Knitter’s Magazine pattern:

and this pretty Architexture scarf (her second or third, I believe) in Huasco DK:

Kathie Holm made this lovely Hydrangea wrap as a gift:

Marci Frey knit this adorable baby sweater for a co-worker.   Sorry, I don’t have the name of the pattern:

Pam Zern made several pairs of these Last-Minute Mittlets in luscious cashmere:

David Ritz, even though we don’t see him much these days, keeps in touch, and sent this picture of the Wildflower Cowl he made:

Nadine Lyon fell in love with the rainbow colors of our Sueno colorpacks and made this adorable Bounce baby blanket:

Kim Lally picked a great color of Olympia from Lana Grossa, and made a gorgeous poncho from their booklet of patterns (available at the shop):

Suzy Crump knit this lovely wrap (called Void) from Amirisu magazine for one of her cherished daughters-in-law:

Karen Wenrich used up dozens of fingering-weight left-overs from her many shawls and made this wonderful linen stitch wrap.  I don’t know if she used a pattern but Churchmouse’s  would certainly work:

Phew!  Overwhelming, yes?  Let’s go knit something wonderful!

How much more time is left?  How much more money do you need?  How much more stuff do you want?  More clothes, more food, more kudos, more recognition, more social standing, more, more, more?

A death in my family – the first in my generation – and a reunion of sorts with my extended family has made me reflect on what I want for the next few years of my life, what I enjoy about having this little business, and what I would wish for the years beyond.

What I like about the business:

  1. Helping you choose the right yarn for your project.  I really know a lot about yarn and will never try to sell you something that won’t work.
  2. Helping you with problems in your knitting.  There’s no need to apologize for “taking up our time.”  That’s what it’s all about, as far as I’m concerned.
  3. Teaching classes.
  4. All the stuff you like: buying yarn, talking about yarn, thinking of new projects, talking about knitting, and most of all, knitting.
  5. Designing projects I can’t find good patterns for.  This is not really part of the store; it’s just something I enjoy and would like to do more of if there is ever enough time.

What I don’t like about the business:

  1. Being at the store when no one else is there.  There’s no one at home doing the dishes or the laundry or running errands or waiting for the cable guy or arranging doctor appointments or paying bills or taking the dogs to the vet.  I, like many of you, get to do that in my “free” time.  That’s why I’m giving myself more of it by being closed on Tuesdays now (and probably forever.)
  2. Selling.  I’m not good at it.  I won’t point out a lot of stuff you don’t express an interest in or a need for.  If you don’t look around, you’ll miss a lot of nice yarn and projects and ideas.  Take some time to poke around. (Or don’t; it’s entirely up to you.)
  3. Minor bugaboos that affect every small business: random requests for donations from strangers, junk phone calls, and people pretending they want to buy yarn from me when what they really want is free advice for their project from Michael’s or AC Moore or “America’s Yarn Store” which is hubris if I’ve ever heard it and may be the only yarn store around when the dust settles.  Don’t you wonder how that will go?

My family’s loss of a really good guy, great dad and “Pap” (as his grandkids called him), and my cousin’s sweet husband of 49 years seems to me an occasion to step back a bit and see where we are and where, if we’re given the opportunity, we go from here.

And while we reflect, here are some finished sweater projects to inspire our knitting, lovely as they are.

Rochelle Mann, her own design, in Plymouth Worsted Merino Superwash:

 

Donna Hain, Eyelet Cardi, in Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool:

Eleni Geishauser for her husband, Snowshoe Aran, in Plymouth Galway:

Virginia Conrad, from The Best of Lopi, in Fibre Company’s Cumbria:

Anne Alderman, Modern Wrapper Fine, in Lana Gatto Feeling (with husband John):

 

Virginia Griffith, Sunshine Coast, in Juniper Moon Farm’s Zooey:

Anne Nordhoy, Vitamin D, Modern Wrapper Fine, and her own creation, in various wonderful yarns:

Thanks to everyone who endures my poor photography and my ramblings here.  Writing to you all may be my very favorite part of having the store!  See you soon.