Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Nicky Epstein's Knitted Embellishments: 350 Ways to Enhance Your Knitting, by Nicky Epstein, 1999, Interweave Press, ISBN: 1-883010-39-X, 276p. $31.95(US)

I'm getting a thing for Nicky Epstein. I like the illustrations and directions in her books and the way the pattern ideas are organized. This is the third reference work, I'll call it, that I've appreciated not only for the sheer volume of ideas, but the way it's not about specific projects, but about an aspect of knitting. The three I happen to like are all about ways to embellish. But I'm all about embellishment, so she's my gal. She takes a form and then illustrates many variations, so I feel like I've really gained an understanding of what the embellishment form can do, how to expand it if I want to or how to alter it in other ways that make it just right for my current project. This sort of thing keeps me going for years. I've already thought of dozens of ways I can spruce up my own knitting from ideas in this book, and I'm not contrained by specific patterns. Since I don't usually work from patterns, this is a good thing.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


Labels: Rowan "rag" yarn, cotton embroidery

Here's the requested photo of the labels I've made to "sign" my hand loomed work. The rag "yarn" is a lovely cotton tricot, beautifully soft. Rowan designers have made it up into balls with the strip folded, much like those who braid rugs fold the fabric. I ironed it flat, and it's a bit more than 1cm wide. I have sewn my name on more narrow ribbons, so this is fairly roomy and I can backstitch the letters more comfortably. I just plunge in and do the letters free style, although someday when I want them to look more refined I'll probably draw them in pencil first. It is a great challenge to decide where to put the labels on the work. In some cases I use the label to mark a certain spot on a garmet to help the wearer put it on correctly, or at least the way I intended.

Oh yeah, and that's my latest magazine - I highly recommend it.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Winding balls for pulling from the inside

So I have to admit that I've been a bit blockheaded about this, but that's only after I now see the light. I was in a good little knitting group in my fair city a few weeks ago and one of the members talked about what he used for making balls that you can pull from the inside. A little spark dashed through the murkey goo that goes for my mind.

So last night as I was sitting with my 600 yard skein of Valley Yarns cotton/wool sage green yarn, I decided to try my newfound idea. Thanks Aaron!

I got out my big fat size 19 needles for knitting scarves and started winding the yarn around both of them, so as to get a nice open core in the ball that's not too big and not too small. I was glad I was watching the Dustin Hoffman interview on "Inside Actor's Studio", because the next very long while would have been quite boring without something else going on. Fairly soon I discovered how to wind it just like a ball winder does. So now I have a 600 yard ball that stands up without falling over on its flat bottom and is neatly pulled from the center. My winder could not have handled a ball that big, so I'm profoundly glad to have a 600 yard piece that doesn't have any knots.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


Folk Hats: 32 Knitting Patterns and Tales from Around the World, by Vicki Square, 2005, Interweave Press, ISBN: 1-931499-63-2; 144 p. $21.95(US)

I mostly just look at the photos when I get knitting books. I like many of the hats in this volume, but others seem just stupid, like the knitted version of the Samuri helmet and the European women's skull cap. Vicki Square looks at folk hats and then develops knitted interpretations of the designs. Many are wonderful, but several cause me to wonder about her point. Each hat gets a little "folklore lite" blurb. It's inspiring for the moment, but it's not a keeper and will be donated to my local library knitting collection soon.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

In the studio

Open capelet, worked back and forth on size 11 cable needle, garter stitch, mixed fibers

I have a group of ice blues and spring greens that I've blended together in this fabric. I took the capelet idea and decided to try working back and forth, changing the yarn each row and leaving a fringed opening. I want to make a large, lightweight button for a closure, and will be looking around for materials. I saw some felt buttons recently, and they might be just the right weight. The loose knitting will be pulled out of shape by something heavy.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

In the studio

Capelet, reverse stockinette stitch, size 11 cable needle, mixed fibers

This is the last in the series for awhile. I think I've done just about all I want to do in the way of capelets, and will be switching to other things. But I couldn't resist trying a pink frothy version. It's very girly and irresistible. My knitting will be slowing down in general now that the street fair is over. I'm ready to work on aprons, and I am imagining aprons made with crochet cotton at the moment. I'll be posting what comes out of my experimentation soon.

Monday, June 12, 2006

In the studio

Wool shawl, viariation of basket stitch, size 10 needles

Here's my homage to Kuryon yarn yet again. This time I want to show the tabs I'm putting on the ends instead of fringe. I decided to make them about 4 inches long, with points on the ends. I'm exploring more and more edging ideas thanks to Nicky Epstein and her recent books on edging, Knitting on the Edge and Knitting Over the Edge.
There are three stitches between each tab, and I think I may change that because they look a little bit too far apart. I'm also fantasizing about putting a small tuft on the end of each tab.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Finished capelet

Capelet, mixed fibers, largely "Melody" yarn from Southwest Trading Company, plus various wool and nylon yarns, size 13 cable needle, 16", reverse stockinette stitch

I'm having a great time cooking up various fabrics, and I have piles of vary simple pieces that show off the stitches and fibers now. While the red piece in a previous post is shot through with just a couple other colors, this piece is more like 80% of the Melody yarn, with sort of an "icing" of the fluffy white and ivory yarns. I'm playing with balances of like that. In this work the character remains very lacy, but the fabric is more substantial than the red one.

I'm taking them all to our local Art on Lark fair tomorrow, and I'll see how people respond to them in person.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

In the studio

Scarf, pima cotton, size 5 cable needle, 24", garter stitch

This is a very luxurious yarn and I like the colors. It did take me several tries to get the colors to work the way I wanted, but it was worth it!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

In the studio

Capelet, mixed fibers but mostly "Melody" yarn by Southwest Trading Company, stockinette stitch, size 11 cable needle, 16" length

I decided to try a real color experiment and not mix in the high number of colors I have been using in this series of capelets. So I have a sort of "ground" color and a few accents. I at first thought I would do just red and a black yarn with a silver filament running through it. Then I couldn't help myself and added the brighter colors in for more variety. It's been difficult for me to use restraint with the contrasting colors, but I'm keeping strict watch on myself.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Finished capelet

Filet crochet, black/silver metallic ribbon, US size N hook, picot border on lower edge

Oh yeah -- I've ended up really loving this piece. I can't count how many patterns and ideas I had to try before I found something that I liked with this ribbon. It was in the $3.00 bin at my local yarn shop, so I got bunches. It was a difficult challenge! It's over 1cm wide. I feel that it's quite heavy when knitted up, so I like an airy pattern to keep the weight from getting to be too much. I tried large shell patterns with the N needle, then finally settled on the filet. The shells were too bulky, and looked very cool until the thing was on a real body, then it was not so good. I think it works beautifully in the filet and has the drape I was seeking.

Do you think it looks like chain mail?

Friday, June 02, 2006

In the studio

Small purse, size 5 needles, seed stitch, Noro "Kujaku", wool yarn wrapped with a polyester floss - just about worsted weight

The needles bear mentioning because they are Pony Pearl needles from India and they have metal rods molded inside the plastic, which weights them so that they are very balanced and comfortable. This is a tightly knit, firm fabric so that the purse will hold together and not be stretchy. The fabric is working up very quickly.