Friday, April 21, 2017

granny squares with doc mason's edge

Four days and a long round trip drive to Chicago later.  It turns out that I only needed to bring this one project along, it held my attention and was a perfect companion.
Over the first seven hours of the trip, when I wasn't driving, I made the last five squares, to bring my total to 42. ThenI ripped out the first three squares and made them more interesting. Followed by having a stern talk with myself to prevent ripping out and re-doing any more.  Somewhere around Ohio, with just one painfully expensive speeding ticket in the glove compartment, and just as we finished the last chapter of S-Town *(recommend!), I grabbed the Doc Mason's yarn and started crocheting the outer edges, through to Indiana and then Illinois.
I seriously love this yarn. It's totally working to bring the squares together tonally. Some are relatively muted, like these two, some have, let's say, more punch than I really would like.
Yarn with that farm-y sheepy glow. Don't you want to huff the lanolin fumes? I'm dreaming a whole sweater of it now. I was lucky to get the last of the 2016 Doc Mason's but keep an eye out, Ellen is poised for  another trip to the mill, you can see the clip ready to roll from the link. 
My favorite sight from the trip was these three together again, if only for a few hours. Two of us drove out to Chicago, two flew. The four of us not in the Navy drove back together. Quality togetherness.

* We were completely absorbed by the S-Town podcast, to the point that Dave doesn't even remember seeing most of Pennsylvania, which  let me tell you, is a long long section of the trip. I found it the best kind of reporting and storytelling, and so brilliantly edited. We failed to latch on to any other podcast after it---but did discover that there's a Pandora station called Road Trippin' that was good for three hours of punchy-tired  singalong to mostly early 70's hits and got us home by 2am on Sunday.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

long drive project options

Tomorrow morning we are hopping in the car and pointing it at Illinois, a lonnnng drive, to witness our younger son graduate from Navy boot camp.*  

But that's not what I'm here to blab about,(mostly). I'm here to consider my options. As we all know, the great joy of a 900 mile drive each way is car knitting time.

Do I take all of these? Some? One? And...what podcasts would you be listening to?**

option a) The granny squares!  Seen above, I have 37 of 42 done in a kaleidoscope of  Noro Silk Garden scrap and leftover mixed colors. Five more won't take long to complete.

 I decided on the wonderful farm-y natural Doc Mason's yarn to edge them all, and bring them  back to earth. Above, two test squares-. I tried iton squares with especially bright rounds,  to see if I like the punch + earthy combo. I do! I can edge and weave in ends for miles and miles....

option b) that 2nd brioche cowl. It's hypnotic and rewarding (fast growth and cool looking stitch) ..but if I fuff it up by distraction, could be trouble.

option c) Dave's Zacapa. I love this knit. Pro: I've got most of one sleeve and half the body done. Con:  He will not wear it till next October at best.... Unless my fantasy trip to  Norway happens this summer...which would be...make-believe amazing .

option d) My Half-Hansel just needs to have the edging knit on. Such a dreamy knit. It's a series of triangles with simple lace that repeat, attached to the body of the shawl as they are added. I put it aside when things got chaotic and busy last Fall-- this might be a good stretch of uninterrupted time to get the repetition going.

option e) wait, did I mention my beautiful big bump of  Jill Draper Makes Stuff Empire?  It's for a Farmhouse Cardigan by Amy Christoffers.  Pro:  It would be a perfect long trip knit.  Con:  I  feel guilty jumping into a new knit with these  others unfinished plus.. I haven't wound off any of the yarn yet!!

So what would you bring?

*That's right. These hippy vegetarians have two sons. One a butcher. The other in the military, a new sailor planning to become a Navy medic. I am totally proud of them both and love them to pieces. They are good people.
That's parenthood for ya!

 ** We've got S Town queued up so that's a good chunk of time. I already listend to Missing Richard Simmons (loved it), and I have lots of Fresh Air, WTF and The Moth on tap but I'd love another long form podcast if you know of any great ones.

Monday, April 10, 2017

two color brioche knitting

Soo...we last left me granny square in hand, a distraction/obsession that continued right up to my teaching gig at Mohonk Mountain House.  The trance was broken when Kirsten mentioned she had a very large brioche class the next morning, and I offered to be her guinea pig, for a 2 color brioche lesson.
My last brioche project was one color, flat, a few years back, and did not leave me with a love for the stitch. You can see it  here.  In truth, brioche is  a beautifully rhythmic stitch. But its structure is different enough from stockinette that it requires some brain stretching. And this time I had a private lesson from an excellent teacher....
But, maybe a brioche lesson at midnight with a glass of sherry isn't the smartest way to learn ? I went to bed after totally messing it up, then  woke up the next morning determined to cast on and prove I'm not an idiot.  Conveniently, Jill Draper was vending yarn. She picked out this  duo of Windham  for me. I adore her color sense. I mean, that light mushroomy color that I love looks bad on me, except when entwined with her rosier pink hue.
Once under control, this brioche  two color in the round gallops along pretty quickly, looks amazing and has a fabulous squooshiness and depth. Now I get the popularity.  I wouldn't categorize two color brioche as Drop Dead Easy but it is addictive.  Two weeks later, I was cruising along, adding switched MC/CC sections. I was planning to make it extravagantly tall, when my mom saw it and fell for it hard. She said she owns no cowls and has never knit brioche herself. Despite living  in Maryland, where she will not need a cowl till next December, this is going to be her Mothers Day present. I cast off at a height  that'll still be tons of volume on a petite older lady.  I'm thrilled, it's an honor to have a knitting request from an expert knitter. It's now the best part of the project!
And second best part...? I have enough Windham left to make one for myself, as well.

I'll tell you more about the granny square situation, another day.

Friday, March 03, 2017

granny square revival + Mohonk Mountain House

It started innocently enough: I was invited to teach at the Mohonk Mountain House Knitting Weekend March 17-19th with Jill Draper, Kirsten Kapur, Cal Patch, Clara Parkes and Paula Kucera of White Barn Farm. Yes please!  I've always wanted to go to that grand old lodge in the Hudson Valley of NY, and this is a group of knitters I adore.  They'll teach knitting and I'll teach Iphone-ography and Learn to Make Granny Squares. Kirsten and I will also give our slide show/multi media Drop Dead Easy Knits talk, with trunk show and booksigning. Lovely!
Didja catch that? I'm teaching granny squares! Oh, the humble granny square. So strangely satisfying. So old fashioned but bold. So fun to play around with color and contrast.  So much not what I usually teach. 

Which explains why I thought I'd play with leftover Noro Silk Garden to make samples, showing how crocheting yarn with long color changes makes easy squares, with beautiful color but no need to stop and think about changing colors or make any decisions. 
Three squares in, I had to be honest. They looked mushy. The geometry of the granny square wasn't shining through.  I ripped out all but that one on the left, above.   I switched it, as shown on the right: Changing colors every round, mixing the leftover bits and skeins I have on hand. So much better. I figured I'd make 4 squares. 
But I can't stop. I was away last weekend, took a sweater project that went untouched. But granny squares? Oh yes.

I've moved fully into can't stop/won't stop.  How serious is it? I am starting to stalk Ravelry for small destashes because my bag o'Noro bits is almost empty. (Do you have any to get rid of? No!just kidding!  But..not really..... I mean, I'll use small amounts.....)  I'm having a blast with it.
FYI: I thought I'd be super clever and use only my iPhone to shoot these granny squares. Get it? Because those are my two classes at  Mohonk Mountain House Knitters Weekend.I really can't wait.

There are just a few spots left . Its fabulously timed to treat yo'self. See you there?

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

spontaneity & the snazzy cowl photo shoot

Knitwear designer Laura Nelkin asked me to shoot  for her while we were both in NYC for Vogue Knitting Live a couple of weeks ago. But of course! Look what happened :
Are you singing Its Raining Men yet? Go to that link Dare you to sit still- and not smile.
It's the Snazzy Cowl.  Pretty fabulous, right?

We'd decided on Times Square for the photo shoot, using out of focus bright lights big city as the background, and Laura's adorable daughter Bella modeling.
There are only so many ways to pose with a light weight cowl: let it hang around your neck, hold it up covering your smile to show off the full stitch work, lay it out flat, look down and gaze into  it wistfully holding an empty coffee mug...(JUST KIDDING, WE DON'T DO THAT POSE HERE)...or hold it up towards the camera. Done, done and done.Then we saw a group of young guys do handstands in unison on the steps.
As the handstand dudes were walking away, I scurried over to ask what the deal was. College gymnasts from Arizona, just competed at West Point, tourists for the morning.  Q: Would they mind doing handstands around a knitwear model?  A: Enthusiastic yes!

They choreographed doing flips on the steps all around Bella before we knew what was happening. Laura's heart may have stopped for a few minutes seeing feet flying near Bella's head...but they nailed it.

Next up...can I get the Rockettes to do a kickline in handknit socks? Why not?

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

sidekick hat + drop dead easy knits at vklive nyc

Join me and Kirsten Kapur with Drop Dead Easy Knits at Vogue Knitting Live  NYC this Sunday January 15, 2017 at the Dragonfly Fibers booth, NOON-3 PM  

If you already have our book,  come say hi and show us what you've been knitting from it.
 We will squeal with delight. I promise. 
I should be showing off my Sidekick Hat that I'm so so so close to finishing, knit in two colors of Dragonfly Fibers Djinni Sock . This design by Mary Lou Egan might be the most addictive colorwork pattern ever. It just flies. There's something very gratifying about seeing the squares build up, I keep wanting to knit just another couple of rounds.....
This all over pattern makes it look harder than it is, or you could say, makes me look more skilled than I am!  I (understatement alert) do not have the best memory. Yet, I haven't had to look at the chart since the eighth row. That means truly it is simple-- something you can knit while chatting, or watching, say, multiple episodes of Lilyhammer late at night.
 It is easy to track as you go, two colors, no float longer than four stitches(meaning the color not being used that is carried along the back), so you don't get all twisted up in catching long strands.  It's a good beginner colorwork project.  BTW? Colorwork with big graphics seems like it should be easy, but often isn't. Reference my stalled Passerine, to be continued at a calmer time when I can concentrate on the chart and long floats.
As far as choosing the yarn ....tough decisions!  Looking over the colors had me spinning. Kate's dyeing and colors are varied and beautiful. Contrast between the two yarns is important, and I worried about the variegated yarn detracting from the graphics. 
I settled on one almost solid neutral (Silver Fox, top), and a super bright (Oriental Poppy, bottom).  Although the pattern is written for sport weight, this fingering weight yarn works perfectly.  The range of contrast and color withing the Oriental Poppy is no  problem.  I absolutely LOVE how it looks knit in the repeats.

How thrilling is it to see PussyHats taking off? How're yours coming along? I've scavenged up the last couple of pink skeins here and am awaiting acquisition to knit more bulky last minute hats. Hot tip: Dragonfly Fiber  is offering their pinks at 15% off. through Sunday 1/15. I think I know what I may bring home from the weekend.

Friday, January 06, 2017

the pussyhat project

 1:30 am on January 1st,  I cast on a PussyHat, in support of the Pussy Hat Project .  I wanted to start 2017 right.
Even though I had to rip it and start over at 9 am (thanks bourbon drinks by the bonfire at midnight! love ya too!), it felt good. I can't attend the Womens March on Washington  January 21st  but I am thrilled that my sister Marla will be wearing it there. 
Also thrilled that this act of Craft Activism is spreading across the country. HuffPo coverage here, and lots more links and info roundup over on the MDK website today.  

Through knitting a hat, we can support the bodies and cold heads, and the efforts of those marching in Washington. It's a way to connect physically and concretely.
The original free pattern by Kat Coyle is simple and knit flat. An evening's easy effort if you knit it in a chunky* alpaca, as I did.  It doesn't take much googling around to find versions knit in the round, crocheted, ribbed all over, roll brim etc. Kat is a fabulous artist and designer, profiled in CraftActivism, a connection I loved making when I photographed her for the book. (I know! I get to meet the best people, I am very lucky).
On Facebook, source of false info daily (seriously, can that be their motto?) I read some  knitters whining that "they had to buy a kit" to make the Pussy Hat- FALSE. Free patterns plus whatever yarn you want to MacGyver together.  Don't have pink? use another color. Or get some pink Kiwi Koolaid and make it pink. 

Lastly, I read a popular knitpodcaster asking if it trivializes the Womens March. NO. It does not.  If you click on over to the original project pattern PDF there's some info about why the color pink and the pussycat ears.  Aside from the symbolism, The Pussy Hat Project offers knitters a way to contribute in the way we love best. By the work of our hands.  A feeling of unity and a visible symbol that will be quite media friendly are not trivial. That is what large assemblies in Washington are all about. A sea of pink pussy hats on the national mall ? yes.
My sister Marla sent this selfie when she received hers in the mail, last night.  If you see her, say hi. (she's @marlaatelierista on Instagram, if you like Reggio-inspired art education, public activist art, lots of color and joyful photos)

Are you knitting one? If so , which pattern and any mods how did it turn out? While typing this I agreed to make a fuschia one for a stylish friend. I need to do it right!

* for my chunky alpaca pussyhat, I cast on 38 stitches, on size US9 needles, more details here