Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Recharging my knitting batteries

I took another box full of items to Woodstock on Sunday, and now I'm going to recharge my knitting batteries for awhile. Check back after Thanksgiving to see what's new.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

In the studio

Hat, crochet, wool and nylon, single crochet throughout, crochet tassle, size f hook

This perky hat is made from a red wool that's like Lopi (I'll have to find the label again to give you the details) and a very nubby, curly, bouncy boucle wool that has a teensy bit of nylon to keep it somewhat organized into a thick and thin strand. I'm liking the way the multi color yarn is bumpy and makes nice texture variation somewhat like popcorn stitch in the single crochet. It's a very thick hat due to the bulkiness of the yarn, and also not soft but stiff due to the smaller crochet hook used.

I'm also working on a series of capelets. One is made with Southwest Trading Company "Melody" and one is out of a generic wool and hemp blend that I got in Saratoga Springs. Queer Joe (see a link to his blog in the sidebar) tipped me off about this yarn and I went up and snaffled a few cones of it. These two capelets are off the needles and awaiting finishing touches. I think I may do crochet edgings tonight.

I've also started a capelet with forest green lace weight mohair - very floaty. I'm using a size 5 needle for the base stitch and a size 15 to make very loose rows and to get a lace effect without having to count a stitch pattern. Photos to come soon!

I'm doing a grand finishing effort over the next few days and then taking everything I have to the gallery in Woodstock.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Scarf encore

Scarf, wool and silk blend, twisted stockinette stitch, crochet fringe border approximately 5 in x 80 in

I got the knitting done on this scarf and felt that it was blah, although I like the stitch pattern. It needed something. I took up the crochet hook and voila! The fringe along the long edge gave it just the body and pizzazz it needs.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Finished hat

Hat, mixed fibers, reverse stockinette, size 10.5 cable needle

See the theme here? More of each yarn remains and I'm pausing to figure out what I want to do. I like going through series and taking ideas through alterations and all the tweaking. Each hat does have a unique combination of yarns, although also several common yarns. I like the way each does have a different effect. I'm itching to do another crochet version because it's so much faster than knitting for me.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Finished hat

Hat, mixed fibers, crochet, single crochet stitch throughout, reversible, H hook

The inspirational yarn for this series is made in Italy for a Swiss company called Lang. It's called Nora
I have found it to be very comfy. It's a strip of woven fabric wrapped with a light fuzzy strand. If you click on the thumbnail of it on the Lang site, you'll see the details. I've not seen anything quite like it. The colors are earthy, so with a few more yarns added in, these hats are very symbolic of the autumn, and they feel all cozy and warm to the touch because of the fuzziness.

For me it's easy to hide the knots and weave in the ends while doing crochet and a pain while knitting. So I made everything completely tidy on both sides in order to make it possible to roll up the bottom or even turn it inside out.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Finished hat

Hat, mixed fibers, stockinette stitch, size 10.5 needle

The process with this series of hats can go either way: I sit with scads of yarns and cut lengths abitrarily, tie them together and wind them into balls then knit, or I sit with scads of yarns and start knitting, then cut and tie the lengths of yarn as I go. Both involve sitting amid piles and piles of yarns and a good deal of time selecting what goes with what. When I make up the balls before I begin knitting there's a sense of anticipation about how it will turn out that I like. I don't know what will happen. I change yarns if it looks like it will be yukky, and otherwise make adjustments as I go along to intelligently distribute textures and weights.

This colorway is the result of finding oodles of yarn on sale at one of my favorite little yarn shops, Saratoga Needle Arts, in Saratoga Springs, New York. They have great sales and have an ongoing 50% off area that I scrounge on a regular basis.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Finished hat

Hat, mixed fibers, reverse stockinette, size 10.5 needles

I got a 16 in. Skacel Addi Turbo cable needle and it's perfect for hats. I've been smoking with it - four hats in three days.

Monday, October 31, 2005

In the studio

Hat, mixed fibers, stockinette stitch, size 5 needles

I've put some yarns together and have now begun the second project with them. They are a mish mash of cotton, linen, silk, wool tape ( I love Colinette yarns!), fuzzy acrylic and most in pale tints. A few are saturated hues that stand out and make a great interesting area. I started out making a shawl on large needles with these yarns but then decided that I want to make hats. So I ripped it out and voila.

I have to confess that I'm knitting virtually everywhere now. This photo was taken in a cafe on campus, where I take my own cups and get refills. I started with this sort of chimney shape, and I don't know where it's going, but I like it.

The knitting is a little tight, and I don't know how it'll effect the hat shape yet. I could draw the open top together and put a pom pom up there and it would stand up straight.

Technical note: the aluminum double pointed needles slip right out of the knitting. In the photo you can see that I'm switching to bamboo, which I'm sure will grip the yarn and stay in.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

In the studio

Shawl, black rayon and nylon, size 11 cable needle, garter stitch

Although normally I'm not keen on knitting with nylon and rayon yarns, this is an exception. There's something about the way that this "yarn" drapes and reflects light that I love. It's South West Trading Company's Melody yarn, and it comes in 400 yard balls.

Although these "ladder" yarns have been around for the last few years, I haven't tried knitting with them as the solitary yarn until now. I've been using them as shiny bits in my more complex fabrics. But then I saw a shawl in one of my favorite shops, the Woodstock Wool Company, and I had to try it. The secret to getting a wonderful fabric that doesn't look plastic is to use largish needles and make it more of a lace or net than a solid fabric. In this piece the shiny rayon squares are distributed in a mottled pattern through the lace and the drape is superb and it is very sensual. And black.

In the last couple days I've been unable to resist experimenting with crochet. Since I have this yarn in bougainvillea, sky blue, purple and taupe I have plenty for experimenting! I'm trying a circle capelet using an improvised lace stitch pattern in the sky blue color. I'm trying a smallish hook and checking out the texture with the rayon squares put more closely together than the knit piece to form a sort of broken shiny surface. Instead of the spaces being evenly distributed, like the effect from the large needles using garter stitch, I'm making typical crochet lace spaces. Well...I guess I have to get out the camera and show you. Photos to follow.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

In the studio

Shawl, mixed fibers, single crochet

I'm having a blast with this shawl using yarns from recent projects combined anew. I'm using a big aluminum crochet hook like an H size or close to that. I began with a rich wine wool that I acquired through barter for sewing lessons and have enjoyed selecting yarns that make a sturdy cold weather garment.

I'm imagining making the long edge of the triangle long enough so that the shawl can be fastened down the front and look more like a poncho.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Finished scarf

Scarf, rib stitch with crocheted fringe along the long edge, size 9 cable needle; approximately 5 in x 84 in excluding side fringe

This wool is by Tahki I'm not sure if they make it any more. It's an absolute pleasure in my hands and I'm sure the wearer of this scarf will feel the reason why. It's one of the softest yarns I've used. It is a thick and thin spun yarn, which gives it a textural interest even with very plain stitch patterns like this rib pattern. You can see the undulating surface in the photo. The color also has a stark pureness that is attractive with the uneven surface texture.

I've tried making four other (unsuccessful) items with this yarn before this scarf, all too loosely knit. It doesn't work well on larger needles, so once I got this size 9 needle and the tried the rib stitch pattern, it was clear that the stitch should be a more tight dense one rather than a loose or lacey one. Loose lacy stitch patterns make everything look wonky with the thick and thin yarn. Next up is a hat, I think, with a tight crochet stitch.

I used a slip stitch selvage. With a crochet hook I picked up stitches along the edge, making a 14 stitch chain, turn and slip stitch in each chain stitch back to the scarf edge, two or three single crochet, picking up stiches from the scarf edge, then another fringe. The fringes are like little creatures with lives of their own.

It's very thin - about 14 stitches per row. But the loft of the yarn makes it a very warm garment. If I wasn't moving to Florida I'd keep this one for myself.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Finished scarf

Scarf, mixed fibers, garter stitch, size 13 needles; excluding fringe about 5 in x 84 in

This is the completed scarf from the Oct. 12 entry. It worked up quickly and was very satisfying. I still want to do many more with the fringe along the long edges. Or at least some sort of embellishement along those edges. After finishing the Noro Silk Garden scarf in the Oct. 10 entry I've realized that it needs something, and I may try some kind of long-edge embellishment.

I liked working with a rather limited group of yarns for this scarf, especially since one of them is a Noro Kureyon that changes radically in color through a sky blue, pink and bright yellow. All these yarns are also worsted weight or near that, so there's a uniformity to the fabric that I like quite a bit.

Saturday I met a friend who gave me wonderful advice on free lance art work, since she's a singer in New York City. I met her in Poughkeepsie and we had a nice lunch in Rhinebeck at the Beekman Arms. It was raining steadily, so it wasn't a great day for walking. She agreed to accompany me up to Woodstock and I took another box of knitting to the Fleur de Lis gallery of the Woodstock Guild. The knitting that I took on my previous trip is displayed very nicely and put in different places around the shop. All the pieces are in the blog. I could tell that the shop manager had tried on all of them. She told me that the customers in the gallery like reading the tags. I usually put some sort of collage or rubber-stamp work on one side of the tag, then a desciption of the work and care instructions on the other side.

Also I should send more hats.

I felt the slightest sensation of a vacuum with all those pieces gone when I got back to my studio. So I started a few more and scrounged back through the in-progress bin. Red wrist warmers, mohair capelet II, shaggy shawl in teal and purple, "mossy" colors shaggy shawl, big mother of all shawls, etc. etc. Peectures soon!

Friday, October 21, 2005

My first capelet

Capelet, lavender mohair, rib stitch, size 13 cable needle

This is the completed version of the Sept. 27 entry.

I've been imagining how to put one of these together since last winter and finally the idea came about with the mohair because it's very warm yet won't do well next to the skin in a scarf. I did the flounce by knitting into the front and back of each stich after I picked up a stitch along the long edge from each row of the ribbed "body" rectangular piece. I've been browsing Nicky Epstein's book on edgings for the past couple months (Knitting on the Edge) and the chapter on ruffles is one of my favorites. At first I was imagining a stole that would have either two retro large buttons at the top of one side and loops to go around them, or a band at the shoulders that would be contrasting to the main stole and have one large button and buttonhole. In the end I crocheted a row of double crochet around the neck edge and made the cord out of a long chain with one row of single crochet to give it body but not too much weight. And that turned it into a capelet.

It's the first thing I've made that doesn't fit me - it's made for a girl or a very petite woman.

I like the off-center opening in the front.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Finished shaggy shawl

Here's the shawl in yesterday's entry completed! The garter stitch shawls on large-ish needles work up very quickly once the strands of yarn are all tied together. Most of the work is in selecting and preparing the yarns. This piece is on the light side rather than heavey and the softer fuzzier yarns make it very comfortable against the skin.

How to display finished pieces is becoming a real question for me. This one is wrapped around the back of a chair, but it still isn't sufficiently revealed in the photo that way. I've not worked up enough courage to ask the young people all around me to put things on so I can photograph them. I'm also thinking about working up a papier mache torso to use for pieces that are meant to be worn there. After I move. With the glass head I have and a papier mache torso or two I ought to be able to show off just about anything I make.

Another idea that I'm pondering is how to "sign" my work. So far I've only signed a few pieces using an embroidered ribbon. Maybe I could use fabric paint on a ribbon. Embroidering my name takes just long enough to drive me crazy with impatience.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

In the studio

Shawl, mixed fibers, garter stitch, increasing two stitches each row, size 11 cable needle

I began this in the summer and still love the lightweight feel of it. The base color, if I can call it that, is a tan EuroFlax linen which creates a lacey effect when knitted on the larger needles. You can see a thick tan stripe off to the left in the photo. Other yarns are bulkier and fuzzy or tufted and fill in the fabric so that the effect overall is sort of webby and mossy and very uneven rather than uniform. There are several metallic fibers that don't show up in the photo and they give the occasional flash of light. I'm leaving the knots right out there without weaving in the ends. I make up balls of yarn from about 15 different yarns, cutting arbitrary lengths as I go along. I use the EuroFlax linen just about every other yarn, so that it's pervasive and the other yarns stand out from that base smooth matte tan texture and color. The knot ends contribut to a very shaggy, barbaric fabric look. I've described a similar shawl as being like something you'd pick up off the forest floor.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The denim shawl "on"

Shawl, cotton "denim" yarn, garter and stockinett stitch with yo rows

It's not that I'm obsessed with this shawl, it's just that it looks so much different on a person than it does stretched out over a massage table! My friend knows how to wrap up in it perfectly, don't you think?

There's still half a cone of this lovely cotton yarn remaining. What to do? I'm thinking of a filet crochet top made to be worn over a tank, or a small poncho.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Finished scarf

Scarf, acrylic and polyester, garter stitch, size 13 cable needle

This scarf has 11 stitches per row and it really looks as messy and shaggy as the photo. I tried getting the colors right for the scarf, but the background went all out of whack. It's another entry in the purple and gold series, which I'm still enjoying. I think I have the beginnings of everything here in the blog, so there'll be around of "finished" photos coming up of the next few weeks. Along with being in the purple and gold series, it's a member of the "skinny" scarf series that I've been creating since the spring. I always think of them as being favorites of the 11 - 20 crowd.

I was a complete knitting fiend over the weekend and am done with a couple of things along with making substantive progress on others. Photos will come soon.

All will go to the Fleur de Lis gallery in Woodstock, New York which helps support the Woodstock Guild. The gallery manager is trying to learn web skills and her goal is to eventually have something like an online catalog.

Friday, October 14, 2005

In the studio

Scarf, wool, garter stitch with separate strands knitted in, size 9 needles.

This is my experiment so far. Each row is twelve stitches plus a selvage stitch at the beginning of each row. I'm knitting in the separate strands for 3 to 4 stitches, depending on what seems necessary to really bind in the strand. Each strand is about 6 to 9 inches long and I've cut bunches them and put them in a cigar box. I'm not too keen on the color combination at this point and will probably rip this out and start with either a different base color or take most of the black out of my separate strands box and replace it with colors. I've got some creamy white yarn that could make an excellent base yarn for all the black.

Beyond the color situation, the effect is that shaggy appearance that I love very much and I can see myself doing lots and lots of it real soon now.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

In the studio

Small triangle scarves, cotton, garter stitch, size 8 needle

This cotton yarn is very dreamy and a pleasure to knit. A very smooth hand shows off the stitches. I got it in the purple and gold (sort of) school color combination that I'm using for many pieces right now. These small triangles can be head scarves or neck scarves - more of an accessory than for warmth. The small needle size means there's quite a bit of knitting. I'm experimenting with combining the two colors to the best effect. The fringe on the striped scarf is not very successful and I believe that is because the color change and stripes already make the fabric "busy" and fringe is too much more busy-ness. I like the solid color areas of the second scarf. The challenge is to make the color twist in the middle as even as possible, and that's quite difficult for me. I need more experience.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

In the studio

Scarf, mixed fibers, garter stitch, size 13 needles

Here's my first result from the "unlikely combinations" play of Monday. This is my first scarf with the side fringe along the long sides of the scarf. I like it very much and am going to do many variations of it in the near future. I'm changing yarns every two rows which I think allows every color to make an impression in the overall fabric. I arbitrarily do a single row of color now and then just to be inconsistent. There are approximately 9 different yarns involved.

Last night I spent a very pleasant 90 minutes with three young women who want to learn to knit. One of them knows knitting a bit and is simply not yet able to read the knitting or completely understand what's going on. Remember that phase? She has yummy yarn and a set of hand me down needles that all look very very interesting. One has learned to crochet and knit from her grandmother, but gave it all up for a few years to study hard and come to America. She just is recalling crochet and now wants to see what she can get going again with knitting. One has never picked up the needles before. It was lovely time, sitting around the table and giving instruction and encouragement. I showed them the two Sally Melville books that I have and told them how good it is to have a basic book to use when they forget how to do something or want to learn a little something new.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

It is finished

Shawl, cotton "denim" yarn, garter and stockinett stitch with yo rows

The shawl is stretched out flat over my massage table and covers the entire thing. I wore it over to my dining hall yesterday and I can wrap it around my torso like the Indian shawls that I love very much. Yay! I don't know exactly what drove me to finish this thing so quickly except the feel of that marvelous cotton yarn through my fingers. It's divine. I spent the morning getting it completely finished with everything all neatly tucked in and had to undo the bind off row. I had used a larger needle in order to not get that too tight effect. It turns out I needed a tightening effect on the end because I had knit many yo rows and it was loosey goosey. The tight bind off row gathers things nicely back together again with a firm edge. Since it's so lacey it was difficult to weave in the knots, so I used sewing thread to secure them so that they wouldn't ravel or fray.

Then I celebrated by fooling around with bunches of old projects. I pulled another large shawl out of the bin and I'm sure I'll be sailing through it. See the Sept. 24 entry - the multicolor wool. I'm in love all over again!

I also started going through the miscellaneous bags and pulled out unlikely combinations while I'm thinking about scarves that will work up quickly on large needles. We'll see what turns up. I'm hovering over a black and red combination.

Friday, October 07, 2005


Shawl, cotton "denim" yarn, garter and stockinett stitch with yo rows

This is the same shawl from the Sept. 12 entry. I thought I'd upload this photo now, because I have to take a photo soon of the finished product. Maybe tonight. I'm calling it a "monster". It's huge! The drape of the fabric is really great. The lacy effect of the yo rows also results in a lovely very soft drape. I was able to work on it day and night while I was on a vacation trip over the past week so I'll finish about six more inches and it'll be ready to bind off. It's the biggest thing I've finished in quite awhile, but I have another about the same size within a foot or so of being done (the Noro wool one in the Sept. 24 entry). Woo hoo!!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

In the studio

Scarf, chunky wool and acrylic boucle yarn, double rib stitch, size 15 needle

This yarn produces a fabric that feels wonderful. I have my doubts about using the double rib stitch, and may still rip it all out and start something different. The bulk and softness of the fabric make me think that it'll be a very good-feeling scarf, and I'm tempted to change it to a tube scarf.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

In the studio

Stole, lavender mohair, rib stitch, size 13 cable needle

Well heck darn, the purple and gold scarf photo won't upload for some freaky reason that I can't discover just now. But here's this old thing.

I've had the cone of mohair around for a few months, wondering what I could bear to make with it. So I'm doing this very girly stole, I think with a flounce on the bottom and big buttons. I'm knitting side to side, so the rib will make a strong horizontal stripe effect. I'll try to take photos as I progress. The rib also makes the mohair fabric rather thick, so this thing is going to be warm as all get out.

Monday, September 26, 2005

In the studio

My image size isn't passing muster with the Blogger software today, and I don't have time to mess with it any more. I want to show you the purple and gold scarf I've been working on over the past few days. It's half Brown Sheep bulky wool and half fuzzy nylon yarn blended with a lovely wool sock yarn. It's an unusual combination because I've made the color change using intarsia and the stipes go the length of the scarf.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

In the studio

I've been working on these two pieces and have also started something in a lavender mohair that is very girlie, but I haven't taken the photo yet. I'm trying to learn to make consistently better photos, so that's slowing me down. I'm too conscious of everything so the photo shoot is becoming a labor in itself.

I also am going to start asking my neighbors to pose in the garments for me. It seems to me that the photos look kind of sterile after awhile with no human touch.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


Hat, cotton chenille, single crochet throughout, really big hook

This is the Cherry Tree Hill cotton that I spoke of a few days ago. Sunday I sat down with it and voila! a hat. It didn't quite take a skein. I also have some of the chenille in pale colors called "birches". I like these primary colors. I hope they keep making very cool yarns like this.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Finished scarf

Scarf, wool, rib stitch, size 19 needles

This photo was taken during the last moments of working on the scarf. Since the yarn itself is a knitted tube it tends to ravel. I'm still trying to sort out how to properly finish off the ends. Right now I'm thinking I'll bind the yarn ends with a few sewn stitches in a matching thread. Otherwise if the little loose fiber catches on anthing it's bye bye strand of yarn, hello long ravel.

Two more full balls and a partial ball left!! I think I'm going to try to blend it into a mixed-fiber piece.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Finished scarf

Scarf, wool and silk blend, twisted stockinette stitch, size 13 needles

This is another item in the finishing frenzy. This curled quite a bit during knitting, and I really spread it apart when blocking, to maximize the lacey effect. After doing that, I think I'd make it wider. It will be plenty warm since it's long enough to wrap around the neck a good couple times and won't be too bulky. But it looks a little forlorn to me, since I'm accustomed to much more dense fabric. I simply had to try lace using a bulky yarn. I do love the effect of the stitch pattern done with those big needles. They're big bamboo, so they feel like wonderful warm sticks while knitting.

I took fourteen finished pieces down to the Woodstock Guild gallery, Fleur de Lis, last night. For the second or third time I did an artist's statement, and I think it's the best so far, although only about my knitting:

Knitted textiles by Lorre Smith

Knitting is a hand looming technique that uses a strand of fiber and two sticks to form and intertwine loops in such a way that they create a stable and sometimes stretchy fabric. I have knitted all the items in this display without using assistants or apprentices. All the processes I use are manual processes or those that may use a very simple apparatus such as a yarn swift and a ball winder. Yarn manufacturers and spinners often shape lengths of 100 or more yards of yarn into a very large loop called a skein. The skein will tangle easily, so the swift and ball winder help put the yarn into a tighter and more usable form for knitting. The yarns I use are from all over the world and include, silk, wool, cotton, linen, nylon, polyester, metallic fibers, viscose, tencel, acrylic, alpaca, acetate, mohair, cashmere and rayon.

I knit in order to create beautiful textiles in ancient forms such as wraps and scarves. I often seek a wide range of yarns, sometimes more than 30 or 40 to create one fabric. The colors and surface design of each piece grow through a duly considered process of color and fiber selection and combination. In some pieces it is important to select a smooth yarn that will highlight the fabric pattern. In other pieces it is more desirable to use wildly different yarns with extraordinary texture created by yarn combinations rather than a fabric pattern. I am endlessly attracted to the combination of utility and beauty.

Monday, September 19, 2005


triangle shawl, mixed fibers, garter stitch, size 9 cable needle

I got the purple wool yarns for this shawl at my local farmer's market. The price was unbeatable, and the colors are lovely. The color blend is the most bizarre I've ever tried, and the mode is what I like to call "barbaric". I've cultivated different types of shagginess based on the various tufted yarns produced in recent years. Some shaggy fabrics look rather refined, but this is just down home barbaric. The yarn is worsted weight, and it makes me warm just holding it in my lap while I knit. I'm within a few inches of being finished, and it's been in my "in progress" bin for about a year. With a size 9 needle it's a LOT of knitting. The colors are lavender, periwinkle, deep magenta, rust and variegated gray.

I only have one more "monster" shawl like this, also within a few inches of getting done. So life is mostly finishing up things these days. Although I couldn't help myself and began a super-bulky scarf on Saturday. I also just started fingering some Cherry Tree Hill super chunky chenille yesterday and about an hour later I had a crocheted hat in my hands. Photo coming up soon.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

In the Studio

Hat, Wool Noro Kureyon, knitting Nancy and silk ribbon

I'm finishing so many things that I'm reaching way back into my "in progress" bin. I was happy to see this hat again. It'll be a pointy pixie style, made of a spiral. I'm sewing the cord together with silk ribbon so that the stitches show a little bit and I'm matching the ribbon to the yarn color. The embellishment of the point is still up in the air. I do love pompoms and other fluffy - floaty - moving things up top.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Finished scarves

White scarf, wool, rib stitch; variegated scarf, abaca, seed stitch, both embellished with sequins

Both these scarves are finished as of today and will go with many others to Woodstock for sale in the Fleur de Lis Gallery there. I decided to sew each sequin individually to the front and back of each black patch in the abaca scarf, and it took time to knot the thread each time to begin the stitches and anchor the sequins into the scarf, then to knot it again after the sequins were attached. For the wool scarf I used a continuous thread and worked in a zig-zag path across the scarf, alternating from RS to WS. So I'd fasten a sequin on the RS, then take a very long stitch down through the knitting and end it on the WS of the scarf. Then I'd fasten a sequin onto the WS and take a long stitch and end it on the RS. This went much faster, but now there's a sewing thread that runs all through the wool knitting. This requires a careful selection of the sewing thread so that it is as invisible as possible. I found it easier to match the yarn with embroidery floss, because I have about a million colors of it.

I barely captured the sequins, but you can see there aren't too many of them. I'm convinced that on a lot of scarves, fewer sequins are better and they add interest because they're a little bit mysterious. The temptation at first was to put something that starkly contrasted with the white scarf, like black or hot pink. But I'm endeared to the "flash" effect, where the sequin starts to show up after flashing light, rather than being an obvious embellishment at first glance.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


Scarf, wool, rib stitch, size 5 cable needle

This is within inches of taking it off the needles. It's about 1.75 in. wide and will be about 72 in long. I think I'll add about 6 more inches, which won't take more than a half hour. The butter colored sequins are the ones I have chosen to use for the embellishment. That tends to go slowly, but I adore the effect.

This is done with Colorado Wool's "Vail" yarn, which I like more and more as I handle it and use it to create different pieces. It's a dk weight, and in a tight rib like this scarf it's just perfect. The sequins are from Cartright's which has provided endless fun for only $20. I have to restrain myself on a site like that because of course I want them ALL.

I finally am investigating the closeup focus function in my camera, so I hope to have less and less blur in each closeup image.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


Hat, mixed fibers, stockinette stitch, 5mm cable needle and dpn

I loved making this hat. I like working in novelty yarns, and this combination provided just the sort of colors I was looking to use in a purple and gold theme. I worked on a cable needle most of the way up from the bottom, then switched to dpn to start decreasing. The shape is mostly like ancient bread ovens, with a broad bottom, and then what looks like a chimney I didn't close it because I think that adds to the funkiness of the hat. I bound off and then got out my crochet hook to do the fringes on the top. Then I made I-cord as a tie so that the wearer has control over how tight the hat is at the top and how floppy it is. The top is sort of like a big pony tail.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Back in the studio

Shawl, blue "denim" cotton, garter and stockinett stitch with yo rows.

I doubled the size of this monster over the weekend and had a great time with the cotton yarn, which feels really good. I'm using an Addi Turbo cable metal needle and the knitting goes very very quickly! Over the summer the cotton yarn stuck to my fingers because of the high humidity we suffered most of the time. Now that the humidity is down to more normal levels the cotton is once again an immense pleasure. The top photo is how I'm working it, which is basically side to side, so that the efffect of the popped out garter stitch rows will be vertical stripes.

Like so:

I realize that the fact that I'm taking many of these photos on a couch under a window makes the colors difficult to portray. The incoming light really jerks the camera's optical systems around. I can usually mess with the images in photoshop, but today's efforts don't seem to have done much good. I'll have to start setting up a photo place on the other side of the room. The couch is just easy.

The color of the yarn is a wonderful faded or washed blue like old blue jeans. I think this shawl will be extraordinarily comfy without being fussy. Since I have a massive cone of this yarn I'm looking forward to trying a stitch pattern with a lot of definition, like leaves on a reverse stockinette background or such like on another shawl.

Saturday, September 03, 2005


That Knitting Blog will be inactive for a few days while I recharge my knitting batteries.

Thursday, September 01, 2005


Apologies for the photo-my usual source doesn't have one for this book.
The Art of Knitting is a book I've been stalking for weeks. I'm fondling copies of it in shops and letting my eyes wander all over the delightful photography. It looks terrifically inspirational. Some day the urge may strike when I'm not saving pennies for other things and I'll get to take it home to bed (now shared with a rather tasteless fall issue of Knitter's magazine). The Art of Knitting looks both inspiring and educational. It's the first book I think I've ever seen that mixes discussions and illustrations of machine knitting and hand knitting.

Here's the full cite: The Art of Knitting: Inspirational Stitches, Textures, and Surfaces by Francoise Loumagne Tellier, June 2005, published by Thames & Hudson
ISBN: 0-500-28557-8 320p. $39.95

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

In the Studio

Scarf, variegated abaca, sequins, seed stitch

I think I finally was able to capture the glint of the sequins in this photo. They've been a source of real delight and experimentation. With this piece I put one black cup sequin on each side of the scarf within a patch of black stitches. It doesn't make sense to try to wind a thread through all the knitting between black patches, so I have made an individual loop of stitches for each pair of sequins, making sure that one will show on each side of the scarf. With seed stitch there's not an RS and WS. I had a passing urge to add hot pink sequins to the pink patches, but I've resisted. I'm not sure I'd recommend the abaca fiber due to its tendency to spring off the needles. It's more stiff than linen before it's washed, so very rascally to knit. I haven't washed it yet, but I've seen a swatch that's washed and it becomes beautifully soft. I knitted this with a size 9 needle, so there's a lot of knitting. The swatch I saw was knitted with a much larger needle, and although it was lacy, I didn't like the sparse look of it. This is still somewhat lacy, but more substantial. It'll look more like fabric than merely string, IMO. I can imagine this scarf being a smashing accent for a black outfit.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Yes, I chose this book because of the cover.

I'm glad I did. I like the size of the "Knitting on the Go" series by Vogue Knitting. I also like the fact that they stuck this crochet book in the series. I believe there are a few more crochet titles, but I like this one the most. The scarf on the cover is well worth the price of admission, IMNSHO. But there are also other gems inside. For those of us who think that crochet design is ugly for the most part, this book offers some way cool scarves. I go more for very good illustrations in a book rather than trying to pick apart the directions. This this book I found the directions to be clear as well, an added bonus.

Here's the whole cite:
Vogue Knitting on the Go: Crocheted Scarves, by Trisha Malcolm, 2004, Sixth&Spring Books, ISBN:1-931543-42-9; 88 p. $12.95

Monday, August 29, 2005

In the studio

Shawl, mixed fibers, seed stitch

I have my doubts about this one, and I think it's because my motivation was out of whack. I let my color choice be dictated by a desire to use the blue "yarn". I do need to find a project for this yarn, which is a paper yarn, folded and wrapped with a rayon strand. This project is one I have to think over again, and I may rip it out and start over the next chance I get.

My knitting was interrupted with reading all six Harry Potter novels in a row, starting last weekend. Whew!! It was a good break. Now I'm taking up the knitting again and seeing what calls out to be finished.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Total crap

I was browsing around a JoAnn store in Florida recently in order to get some basic supply or another. I don't usually go for JoAnn stores but go for the locally-owned shops that I'd rather support. So I'm looking around in the knitting section and I notice a couple knitting gadgets. One is a little elaborate thingie with a handle that cranks and produces an I-cord. It's like the knitting knobby only the mechanical crank turns a set of four hooks and it does the knitting. The other is a set of four rings with pegs on them that go from about four inches in diameter to about twelve inches in diameter. They are pretty much big knitting knobbies or knitting Nancies as some might call them. I had them in my hands, and then I put them back. I was flying home and didn't need more junk in my luggage.

When I got back up here in upstate New York I was lured back by curiosity and a love of gadgets. Together they totalled about $30. I set up the little crank thingie by threading the yarn through, turned the crank, and it broke off in my hands. So then I got out one of the rings and threaded it. After about six or seven rounds, I realized that not only was it really heavy and very awkward, but if I wanted to put it on a table so that I didn't have to hold it in my hands, once the tube started getting longer, I wouldn't be able to put it on a table, I'd have to hold it. So much for the gadgets. I took them back the next day.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Karen Allen and machine knitting

For years I assumed that machine knitting was just yukky, and there was nothing anyone could do about it. A few issues ago, Vogue Knitting International in vol 22 Winter 2004/2005 featured movie star Karen Allen because she's a knitter. I thought the article was weird because of the way they made her pose for photos, but I also thought the knitting was *eh*. It was all machine knitting.

So last weekend I'm strolling around Great Barrington, Mass., because it's one of those towns that I like to visit. There's a shop right there on little old Railroad Street with Karen Allen's name on it. Karen Allen's knitting was in the windows. Karen Allen was inside. So well heck yeah, in I went. I have to admit I was wrong wrong wrong. The photos in the Vogue Knitting issue simplly did no justice at all to the work. Karen Allen has mongo talent. Her machine knitting is definitely fine craft. Yummy, scrumptious. I wanted everything in the shop in the worst way. She has used fabulously soft, suitable yarns for the machine. She has created designs that show off the sophistication possible with a machine in the right hands. Her color choices are lovely, and she's not hung up on one thing but is obviously exploring colors and textures like crazy. She also teaches, so if you want to learn machine knitting from the best, Lorre Bob sez get yourself to Great Barrington and sign up.

Friday, August 19, 2005

In the studio

Scarf, nylon and polyester, garter stitch, size 13 needle

This has been fun! Each row is 13 knit stitches, so it sails along. The first stitch of each row is a purl-wise slip stitch and that makes a nice selvage. The fuzziness is like nothing else I've done - I've got enough of these yarns to make another scarf and I'm trying to figure out what I want to do. I think making lengthwise rows would also be fun. I figure about six to eight gold rows and the same number of purple rows would also be sort of wild and fuzz-o-rama like this one.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

In the studio

Scarf, all wool, twisted stockinette stitch

This is the Colorado Wool company "Vail" yarn, and it shows the twisted stockinette stitch beautifully because of the very smooth way it has been spun. It took me awhile to love the "Vail" yarn, but now it has captured my heart because of the weight and the beautiful way it shows off a pattern. It is currently about as cheap as dirt at Webs. I love this intarsia long stripe design and will probably use it more, with different stitch patterns. I happen to love the twisted stockinette too, so I'll looking around for ways to use it again.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

In the studio

Scarf, wool and nylon, garter stitch

I've gone to my favorite shops and looked for various purple and gold (sometimes plain old yellow) combinations, and this one is one of the most fun so far. I'm using intarsia technique to get half a row of purple and half a row of gold, so the stripe is lengthwise. I'm using Brown Sheep bulky for the purple and a combination for the gold of nylon and wool (the wool is to provide the bulk necessary so that the two colors are the same bulkiness). It feels fabulous and looks like a split personality scarf. The purple side has defined stitches and lines and the gold side is fluffy and messy.

These experiments are making me think more seriously about swatching, which I haven't ever done much. I'm concerned about the dyes and making sure that they don't ruin the colors, so I'm trying to begin washing swatches.

Well...I will next time...

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

In the studio

hat, 100% wool, crochet

Ok, so I don't always knit. I'm not sure I'd want to figure out how to knit a cone shape. It's a no-brainer in crochet. I'm going great guns on this purple and gold jag. I'm hoping it'll inspire students to learn to knit or crochet, and in the mean time it's a very inspiring thing to develop designs that will be good, yet a bit on the whimsical side. I see people wearing the things I'm making at games and for partying and generally having a good time at school. That makes a huge difference in how I develop the design, so somehow it's really boosting the creative juices. If I had this particular had to do over I'd do it with much more tight tension. I think a very tight tension is needed to keep the pointy part from drooping over. The droop is not a bad thing and can have its own charm, but I want this one to be pointy. Guess I'll just have to do another one! (oh darn...)

Monday, August 15, 2005

In the studio: purple and gold series

hat, stockinette stitch, novelty yarns, mixed fibers

I succumbed to my inviting stash of purple and gold yarns and started a new hat. I'm all interested in this one because I'm going to make a tube that will be tied so it'll be a stocking cap with a floppy top. The purple and gold things will be interesting to watch. I'm hoping students will dig the variations on the school colors and take up making their own school spirit pieces. We'll see.

Saturday, August 13, 2005


Knitting on the Edge is another title I've been stalking for months. It kept disappearing from my local bookstore before I had a chance to get it myself. It's a "keeper", and a reference source I'm sure I'll use often. Nicky Epstein arranges these edgings around themes, using original designs and traditional ones. Each chapter has a a color theme, sort of like Maggie's Ireland, only in this book the edgings in each chapter are variations on ribs, baubles, cables, or other overall design motives. There are 350 altogether, which is plenty to digest. When I looked at many of them I was thinking that the pattern will work as an overall pattern as well as an edge pattern. So I can see not only dressing up plain designs, or adding a truly sophisticated touch, but making fabrics for pillows, scarves and other items. I like the book because it's not based in the "project" format, but truly a resource for knitters who aren't afraid to make up their own designs. Lorre Bob sez add it to your knitting reference collection and also give her forthcoming title a look, Knitting Over The Edge : Unique Ribs Cords Appliques Color Eclectic - The Second Essential Collection of Decorative Borders.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Not a sock

Small bag, Wool sock yarn, stockinette stitch

I'm still afraid to try socks, but I couldn't resist this fabulously dyed wool yarn. I also am getting the hang of those double pointed needles. Maybe some day I'll actually do socks, but until that time, I'm going to have a ball using the yarn to do all sorts of other things!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

In the studio

Stole, tweedy silk yarn, garter and stockinette combination, size 4 needle

Webs is not far from home, and for awhile I was enjoying myself going there and drifting through their warehouse, satisfying my urge to be overwhelmed with yarns. They put out a good deal of yarn on cones because they also sell to weavers and they like offering yarns every which way for sale. I couldn't resist a couple cones of this silk. I wish I knew what to call the stitch that consists of YO every stitch in the row, then the next row letting the YO fall away and just knitting the original stitch, so there's a big loopy row of double-length stitches. It makes everything very lacy. Essentially this stole is put together on the same idea as the shawl in the July 7 entry, but smaller gauge. I like to arbitrarily decide what stitch each row will be as I'm going along. The silk is the dry-feeling kind, so on days when the humidity is low it feels interesting, and I'm knitting on an old plastic cable needle from my mom's collection. On humid days it sticks to everything, and I avoid it.

Monday, August 01, 2005

In the studio

scarf, rib stitch, merino wool "Vaudeville" by Artful

This yarn had me stumped for a long time. I got it in a grab bag. It's a complicated knitted tube of fine merino wool fibers. This makes it stretch like crazy. This scarf is with a size 19 needle. At that needle size the fabric has a little drape. I started out knitting with the yarn on size 9 or ten needles, I think. It made a very heavy and stiff fabric. It would probably be suitable for a fitted jacket, and stand up by itself. It was a little awkward for a scarf. Then I made a couple huge scarves with it that were almost stoles. I bartered them for some maginificent jewelry at a craft fair last fall, and was very pleased that the jewelry makers who took them loved the colors. I have a strange relationship with the colors myself and don't like them more often than I do. But I'm glad there are people who like the colors, because I have lots of this yarn!

Sunday, July 31, 2005


Note: the twisted stitch in the scarf from the July 29 entry is from Vogue Knitting International Fall 2004 issue, pattern #23 "Posh Pullover". The stitch pattern doesn't seem to have a name.

That said, here's a review of the book: Erica Knight is another inspiring designer that gets my thoughts going. There's just something about beautifully photographed knitting that is endlessly attractive for me. One of the more memorable pieces is the pair of satin ribbon slippers (on the cover) that I swear I'm going to make some day! Knight leads knitters through a variety of unconventional knitting materials, and is very good at also giving examples of household items rather than sticking with sweaters and scarves. I think her sensibilities and hip style sense make knitting look positively the hippest of the hip. She gives an example of knitting with wire, and also knitting by cutting up those omnipresent poly bags that everyone brings home from shopping. Cutting into my stash of those things is definitely on my list. Caveat: I read knitting books for the photos and rarely use the directions, so if you want a more technical review of her pattern writing, please find other reviews.

Here's the full cite:
Simple Knits with a Twist: Unique Projects for Creative Knitters, by Erica Knight, April 2004, Stewart, Tabori & Chang,
ISBN: 1-58479-361-9 Softcover, 128p. $19.95