Friday, November 20, 2009

FO Friday: Baby Hats A-Go-Go!

So, a friend offered me a challenge-to come up with a stripey, toque-style baby hat for her to use as a photo prop when she photographs newborns. For all you non-Canadians, a toque is a triangular hat with a series of far-apart decreases that make the crown into an elongated shape. Think elf hat or Santa Claus. Fun times. Here are my experiments. These are all original designs, just for the record, and obviously one is not a toque. I did not look at any other patterns or closely examine any other hats. I got to use my mad Jogless Jog skills and make these hats quite seamless-looking. You can get some sense of the scale of each hat by its respective "model." The apple is a gigantic honey crisp that is larger than a grapefruit, so it is a little off, but you can hopefully imagine your average navel orange and acorn squash. Each of these is 12-13 inches around. The yarns I used were all from stash-some leftover Karabella Aurora 8 in a soft pinky lavendar from this project and a bit of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran from the Cream and White Yarn Cupboard. The bright pink and white is old Caron acrylic that came to me in a bag of cast-offs. Eew. But the color was right and the baby won't mind. Unless of course she also gets to try on the lovely soft wool version. Then if she had words, she would beg her mama never to let yucky acrylic touch her perfect skin again. Sorry, I'm not normally such an obnoxious yarn snob, but what a difference between the two yarns.

Saturday, November 07, 2009


Yes, it's time again for a report from the land of acronyms. I'm gradually turning my UFO's into FO's. I'm trying to rescue myself from the condition known as SABLE, and I'm very sanctimoniously avoiding any SEX, which we all know causes SABLE, among other things.

So, this week's first feature has been aging in its partially done state for approximately 3 years. It is all from stash, no new yarn was purchased or harmed in the completion of this project. It was from the beginning intended for A4A, and I'm happy to say that I'm going to make the deadline with two blankets-the red one from last week and this one. I like this one very much. It became a bit of a color study for me, and I thoroughly enjoyed playing with the combinations to form a random blanket that had a certain amount of cohesiveness. Hopefully I've avoided any offensive cultural or religious combinations, and hopefully, it will make some baby both happy and warm. What a great program. Thanks Ann, for creating something inspiring enough to get me to finish big things.

PS. I know there are wonderful charities that help people here in the States, but this is the one that gets all my wool, plus the Afghan people just hold a special place in my heart for various reasons. I promise that I do donate to other organizations when I have other yarns to spare.

Next, we have the Origami Bear, a superlative design by Merike Saarniit, who I've had the pleasure of meeting at Stitches. This is for a class I'm teaching in December at Cloverhill Yarn Shop. I used Encore Mega on size 13's and was done in about an hour. The sewing up took another 30 minutes or so. This was also stash yarn, and I can't wait to use other yarn to make bears in all sizes and colors. The way it comes together is ingenious on the order of EZ's Surprise Jacket. You would never imagine during the knitting of it or even once it is complete that it could ever be a cute, cuddly bear. It is formed completely from squares and rectangles, all knitted in one piece, then seamed up in a wonderful organic progression. What a satisfying little thing to create.

PS. I know he needs eyes, but I kinda like him with his face left to the imagination. I think after the class is over, he'll go to my new little nephew in Arizona.

Now, I've got to get back to knitting other people's things. I have a biggie for Gwen that's due in December and one to finish for class this Saturday. Wish me luck.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Finished Object Friday

Last week I was at Stitches East, which turned out great. It was fun to meet new students and see others who have been in my classes before. I had great times with the other teachers who are my pals, and came home with some more awesomely complicated yet elegant contract knitting from Gwen.
I really appreciate everyone's support and generous congratulations about my Knitter's cover. It is one of the fun things of life that I'll always remember. Really, the real congratulations go to Alexis, Rick and Natalie and everyone at Knitter's for their great eye and the amazing visual impact of the magazine. They do such a great job. I'm well aware that this is a super-lucky break for a fairly new designer, and I have no illusions about the challenges ahead for getting published. This does give me a lot of motivation to keep on going, though.

So, this week for Finished Object Friday, I celebrate two double-whammies: Both of these are done, and they are completely from stash. No new yarn was purchased or harmed in the making of these items.

First is a blanket for Afghans for Afghans. I missed the clothing campaign, but I think I'll be able to get two blankets sent in time. This one is made of some gifted Lopi. I know it won't be the softest blanket, but it might be the warmest, and babies look so nice in red. It is a basic big block design and it went very quickly once I decided to just get it done. I would estimate that this has been sitting in my bedside knitting basket for over 2 years. Confession is good for the soul. Now I'm letting it go and I'm thrilled.

Next is a vest from Stephanie Japel's excellent book Fitted Knits. She did it in a solid color, but in the spirit of stash shopping, I used two harmonizing colorways of Berocco Keltic, a nice wool blend in tweedy, subtle gradating stripes. I changed the bottom rib to corrugated rib, sacrificing the stretch, but I'm thrilled with the two-color results and got lots of complements on this while wearing it at Stitches. It was a fun, fast knit. Next time, I would work the darts even smaller to accommodate my mostly flat chest. It is warm to wear and perfect for fall and winter when a vest can make a huge difference in feeling just right-not too warm, but not chilly. This is already a favorite, and its fitted silhouette is a very strong enticement to do that weight training to keep the tummy IN!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Finished Object Friday

I know, it's Saturday, but I intended to post this yesterday and eventually I hope to make it, dare to dream with me, a regular post as I strive to shop my stash and clean out the many bags of UFO's living all around my house. In the last couple of weeks, I've finished all sorts of lingering projects due to my new-found discipline born of the excitement of contract knitting. Now the day just isn't complete without a 2-6 hour session of focused knitting, and it's amazing what you can accomplish! Of course it helps that my volunteer and teaching activity have dropped to record low levels for the last 10 years. That's the real reason I have all this time to knit. But let me blather on no longer. Here is the list!

First for this week's Stash Shopping: Angora Baby Booties

Need a quick gift for a baby? These are my favorite. I have a whole bag of gorgeous pure angora that I picked up on clearance at Cloverhill a few years back. This is now my go-to gift for premies. I've adapted the pattern from Joelle Hoverson's gorgeous Last Minute Knitted Gifts for a 4 pound baby. The sister of a dear friend recently delivered a wee set of healthy triplets, and these were my offering. Each little foot is about as long as my thumb. The whole lot took about 3 hours and came from stash.

Rescued from the UFO Zone:

The Homecoming Socks, started about 2.5 years ago on a plane ride home from Seattle. The yarn is Artyarns Merino sock yarn purchased in Port Townsend, Washington. I'm actually quite happy with how they turned out and may publish the pattern. I actually finished these a while back and even posted photos, but I count them among this group of lost projects.

Also in the sock collection (I think I have found 3 additional sock projects in process) is this pair made from Cestari Cotton Wool Blend purchased at MD Sheep & Wool Festival probably 10 years ago, seriously. I was excited about the yarn and started the socks pretty much immediately, finished the first one and then came down with a very protracted case of SecondSockSyndrome. So, here I am in a new decade and century even, finishing them up. These are time traveling socks. I kinda like that.

(BTW, I'm aware that, as I tell these stories of lost projects found, some of you are wondering what is wrong with me. I feel no shame though. I know I'm not alone in this, so even if you think I'm weird, I'm NOT! )

Happily, the Time Traveling Socks turned out to be worth the wait-really comfy socks and even though the yarn is on the thick side, a DK weight. I knitted them tightly on 3's in a mock cable rib. The cuff is a little loose, but it is short enough that they stay up and are perfect around the house or with my Birks. I don't know how common this is with this yarn, but there was a lot of lumped up purple dye that was problematic while knitting, but has gradually faded with a couple of washings.

But wait, there's MORE! Yes, this has been a productive time. Here is the little bolero I started last spring. I am going to send it to my sister for her sweet little girl. She'll have to grow into it, but this is a fun pattern: Knitting Pure and Simple #275. I will likely make it again. I like to sometimes give baby gifts that are not in baby sizes, and this goes all the way up to size 10. It is made from a great yarn that is of course discontinued: Sunsette-a synthetic blend with some rayon that made it washable yet really soft with a unique hand.

So, that is this week's report. Now I am feverishly working on 2 projects from the UFO zone for Afghans for Afghans. Stay tuned to see if I get them done and out the door!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Stitches Midwest

I am also posting this to my other blog, so if by some strange cosmic mistake you read both, you can skip this.

This weekend I was in my element: Teaching. All weekend long, from Thursday till Sunday I got to teach and teach and teach. I went to a knitting convention (I am not making that up) called Stitches. It was in Chicago. I work for a company called XRX. They publish knitting books, a magazine called (appropriately) Knitter's Magazine, and they put on these shows. Four of them per year. I guess it is something like a Star Trek convention in that we are incredibly geeky, passionate and esoterically thrilled about knitting, but because it is more about learning than entertainment, I actually think it is more like a quilting convention or a scrapbook convention or an upholsterers' convention. There is a big market where you can buy anything and everything related to the subject at hand, and, when they aren't shopping, people take classes. That's where I come in. Over the course of the weekend, I get to teach about 15 hours of classes to knitters of all abilities. I teach about yarn and how to get it to behave the way you want, I teach about different styles of knitting, and I teach a bunch of one-hour classes in the market that allow students to try out a technique in a short amount of time.
It is so awesome. For me, teaching is transporting. I forget about everything outside the classroom, I'm completely in the moment, and I just feel so good. It totally does not feel like work and every time they hand me my paycheck I have to pinch myself.

So, that is where I was this weekend. It was awesome. Here I am with my friend and roommate, Debbie Radtke.
She is a talented designer and teacher herself and in the knitting world she is kinda famous because of this little guy. You may have heard of her.

My best news is that my design is officially published in the next issue of Knitter's mag, it was shown in the fashion show, and I got to get a photo with the actual model who showed it for the magazine photoshoot. That was cool. When I get that I'll show you. Here is me next to one of the publication photos that may show up in the magazine, and yes, it might be on the cover! The mittens that she's wearing, I designed and knit them, and there is a pair of socks to match. When it gets closer to publication I can link you to some better photos. They said that at some point they might give me this huge poster. What a hoot!

Ps. I am attributing my HUGE arms in this photo to some sort of distortion from the fact that this is my phone and not a real camera. Good Heavens.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

August Knitting

I have finished all the contract knitting for the time being. I handed over one project in person on Friday and anxiously await comments from the other designer when my package finally reaches California. Both projects were really interesting, fun and rewarding to knit. Both designers are generous, respectful of my knowledge, and a treat to work for. I hope more work like this will come my way in the future. Being the adrenaline junkie that I am, deadlines really work for me and I get a lot done. I was working on a sample for the shop, but the class didn't fill, which leaves me free now to finish my Round-yoked February Lady and perhaps even my Butterfly Ribwarmer. I love the project in my newly-received Wool Gathering and am determined to make my own version of it. I have a boat-load of Harrisville and other brands of Shetland, so I'm thinking of a more earth-toned version made in yarn I already own. What a concept. I've been working on hats from my previous Wool Gathering and am enjoying them all. I resisted the urge to buy new things when my WG came, which was hard, but it is nearly September, the true time of new beginnings, and I'm freshly resolved to living without buying anything for the next month. Yes, that includes while at Stitches. We'll see how it goes. I have so many beautiful things and I must learn to love them even though they have lost the sparkle of a newly discovered treasure. Hopefully, this will be a month of several new FO's.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Finished Object on the Three-year Plan

Here are my own Homeward Bound socks, begun about three years ago on
the way home from a trip to Seattle. They are all mine and that is a
lovely, delicious feeling.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

No Other Life

Since most of my focus of late has been on knitting, there is little to write about in other areas of my life, so for now, this is my primary blog. The news is that thanks to Fed-Ex's Airport office having a 9:15 drop-off, I was able to get the package out the door on Thursday and received a nice email on Friday acknowledging its arrival. What a green-horn I must sound like, making such a deal out of one magazine submission. There are folks who have 2 or 3 garments in every magazine. Although, I have heard reports of Lily Chin needing to be fed meals by her husband while she finished deadlines, so maybe I'm okay (and she doesn't have 5 kids).
Anyway, I was happy with the overall results, although there is some tweaking to be done. I actually look forward to their comments and suggestions about improving the pattern, because that is my weak spot and the thing that has prevented me from publishing more of my ideas.

I finished the repair of a baby blanket for a four-year-old friend for whom it is her most important comfort item. It was a big repair and she has been waiting a long time. Another repair is a little more poignant. A much older friend dropped off a beloved old sweater in February to be fixed for a second time and told me not to rush, that she wouldn't need it before next fall, and a few weeks ago, she passed away. It is a moving feeling to hold an object of hers after she is gone. So I need to get that done and back to her family for them to cherish.

I'm doing test knitting and another project for Gwen's book, but both of those are small and will be done in a matter of days. I think I'll have a whole sweater to do for Gwen in early June, but it sounds gorgeous and I think I may have even helped with the final color choice, so that will be fun. It will be great when all these things are published to be able to show you what they look like.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I Think I'm Going to Make it!

So, I'm almost done with the knitting, the patterns are written and I have all day tomorrow to put the polish on everything before overnighting it before the post office closes. Luckily, my personality is pathologically dependable, so I actually will make the deadline, even if it does, in fact, cause my death.

Note to self: Remember NOT to agree to alter prom dresses for friends during knitting deadlines. Especially if said prom is the same day as deadline.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Busily Knitting

I'm working on a submission for a national mag, doing test knitting and updating all my handouts. I suddenly feel like I'm working for a living. My friends still smirk when I tell them I'm a professional knitter, but that's okay. I'm keeping busy and that feels good. Well it will until I have to pull an all-nighter to get everything out the door.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

A New Blog

I have good news. I have one more thing to be irregular and "artistic" about. No, just kidding. I have a great new opportunity that I'm very excited about, I just haven't remembered to put it here for me, myself and I to have the thrill of reading about it online and clicking on a link instead of having to google for it.

Gwen Bortner, my esteemed colleague, has invited me to be one of the Knitting Professors on her excellent blog about the adventures of knitting teachers. We will have a back and forth conversation about anything that comes up in the world of knitting. I hope you'll check it out. I find that I like writing about teaching almost as much as actually teaching.

Now I just have to remember to occasionally log onto Ravelry.
Oh dear.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Knitting My Fingers to the Bone and Getting Ready for Stitches

I've been a knitting fool lately getting samples done for shops, author and designer friends. I have seriously talented friends there in my sidebar. Please check out their stuff. My work will be on display, albeit anonymously, at two shops at Stitches West-Ellen's Half Pint Farm and Homestead Heirlooms.

I really like sample knitting because sometimes it is so nice to just follow someone else's directions. It is especially fun when the patterns are really well done. I have also been enjoying playing the role of an organized knitter (as in, "I'm not really an organized knitter, but I play one on TV.") by busily making notes on the patterns, keeping track of when I started and finished, and sticking with one project until it is done and done quickly. I've never listened to so many books on tape in my life. It has all come at a very good time for me, when circumstances have made knitting a true respite from the real world, a world that, at the moment, has my head so full that it has not really had room for an original thought. Thus, I am grateful for the originality of my pals and grateful for this opportunity that I've had to do this work. I'm pleased to say I have yet another job coming from my brilliant author pal.

Another job came my way this week which is even more personal. I want to take some good pictures and post separately about that one. Stay tuned.

So, today my fiber life was replete with 2 excellent private lessons at the shop, good conversation with Jolene, Kate and Lyn, lots of time spent racing to the finish of one of the for-hire projects, and the satisfaction of keeping my commitment of one hour of spinning per day. It was actually hard to stop spinning. As a foil to all the programmed knitting, I've started to play around with the famous February Lady Sweater. I don't know if I dare say it, as popular as this pattern is, but I actually prefer EZ's original round yoke, so I am going to give that a try in Classic Elite Premier in a lovely pale lavender. Maybe I'll find out that the raglan yoke really does look better, but I'm at least going to give it a go using EZ and Meg's guidelines for shaping a round yoke. I've made this for big kids with all kinds of yarn and it turns out really fun. We shall see.

I leave a week from tomorrow for California. I'm detouring to SoCal to see a dear childhood pal, then will most likely drive north with a stop in the middle to see G. I really wish I could go way north to see H. in Yreka, but not this trip. I think next year that will be the plan.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Why I'm Glad I have a Knitting Blog and that I Knit

Right now I'm waiting to register my daughter for a very popular summer retreat for teens. It is sponsored by the Continuing Ed division of Brigham Young University. There are sessions all over the country, but they have so many interested in certain sessions that there is a lottery period for getting your registration in. I am currently number 1492 in line with an estimated wait time of 39 minutes. Fortunately, I have something easy and mindless to work on. Yay Knitting! Other, less fortunate friends would just be bored, or have to play Scamble on facebook all that time. Bless their hearts.

As for why I have a knitting blog, it is because sometimes my other blog is just a chore. I'm just not that interesting that I have something cool to write about every day. Interestingly enough, during times that are challenging or even a bit depressing, my knitting output goes up and I can avoid having to report yet another blah day in the real world. Here, all is color and texture and progress toward the next thing. Yay Knitting again!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Knit One Below Scarf

Here is the sample of the scarf I'm teaching at the shop. This technique, newly explored in Elise Duvekot's great new book Knit One Below, is a variation of a brioche stitch that I first sampled from one of the Barbara Walker Treasuries. Elise has done a nice job fleshing out the possibilities of the stitch, and adapted it to modern yarns like this long repeat stripe called Paintbox from K1C2. It is knit so the colors start out opposite one another, converge in the middle, then shimmer back to the beginning. It was quick and fun to make.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Baby Surprise Jacket

I am teaching this for the wonderful South River Knitting Guild in Annapolis, MD, and so far, everyone seems to be doing well. There is so much on the web about this design, but I thought I'd put up a few thoughts, in case anyone needs help.

Here is a recap of what we talked about and hopefully where you are at. I'll be posting photos of my knit-along sweater tomorrow. Blogger is grumpy tonight.

We discussed the structure, which is brilliant, being all in one piece. As EZ says in the pattern, it looks like nothing you've ever seen when you're done knitting it.

We cast on and discussed which side to count ridges on. If I am knitting in garter stitch and I've used long tail cast on, I don't count the cast-on in my ridges. I count after I've finished even numbered rows, which in this pattern are the wrong-side rows. I count on the right side, though, because that's where the completed garter ridges will show up. The bottom line though, is that if you are consistent, you can count the ridges on either side. Really.

We talked about decreases. Most decided to use the decrease as written, which is sl 1, k2tog, psso. It is a double decrease that has a subtle, flat appearance. The alternative we discussed is the sl 2, k1, p2sso. This one looks great-like a traveling knit stitch on top of the garter fabric, but one has to remember to purl it on the wrong side to complete that illusion.

After casting on, establishing 2 decrease points, and knitting along for a bit, we increased in the cuff sections, which is to say before and after the decrease markers. If this increase happens on a right side row, then one also completes the regular decreases at the markers.

Remember to add some fun stripes as you go! If you change yarns on the right side rows, you'll have clean color transitions. If you change on the wrong side rows, you'll have interesting color blips at the change.

From there, decreasing continues until the stitch count is at 90.
Next comes 3 knit rows, then increasing begins for the bottom half.

Increase rows are as follows: *Knit to the marked stitch, m1, k the marked st, m1, repeat from * once, then knit to end. Instructions for several different make one's (M 1) are found here. Scroll down to the M1L. If you want to be very fussy and refined, you can mirror image your M1's on each side of the marked st, but if you choose to do them all the same, it will look just great, really.

On the horizon in the increase section is:
Watch your stitch count and check the instructions for an increase in the center section only for a little back shaping.

Watch your stitch count and check the instructions for the signal to shape the neck by binding off 5 sts at the beginning of the next two rows.

More soon! Feel free to comment or email me with questions: kellienuss at gmail dot com (replace the at and dot with appropriate punctuation symbols)