Posts Tagged ‘ann weaver’

Virtual High-Five

August 15, 2013

There are many pleasures to finishing a project:

  • being able to wear or use the completed item;
  • knowing that someone else will be able to wear or use the completed item;
  • anticipation of the gift-giving;
  • moving on to another project (there’s always another project!);

And then there’s the joy in sharing your finished creation with other knitters, who have an understanding of the skill and effort that you put into the piece and who can “ooh,” “aah,” and applaud the details — yarn color and texture, stitches, patterns, tension (the good kind).

Friend and fellow knitting cruise pal Cathie finished a bee-yoo-ti-ful square shawl last week — all by herself, in a bar. Before you picture a solitary knitter, boozing it up in a dingy bar somewhere, please know I’m quite sure that she was in a lovely lounge and waiting for a couple of friends to arrive. At least that’s what she wrote on her phone in the note that accompanied this photo of said shawl. (Pattern is Traffic Furniture by Ann Weaver)


Cathie wrote, “OK, I’m in a bar…but there’s no law against knitting in a bar – as you know. The problem is this … I’m waiting for friend and just finished the shawl. No one was recording, taking pictures and the only cheer was in my head.  I clearly have to block it but …. anyway …. I’m wishing you guys were here.”

Can you relate? How about a virtual high-five for Cathie and her shawl?


Zig-zags on a Crescent

August 14, 2013

After a binding-off miscalculation, which resulted in a bit of tinking back and re-binding-off, the crescent shawl is done.


It’s a variation of Ann Weaver‘s basic triangle shawl; actually, a smaller version of her Saturated Shawl.  I didn’t discover until I’d blocked it that I’d been less than consistent in my increases. The result is that there are two zig-zaggy lines of increase “holes” from the center to the edge. I blame this mistake “design element” on the frequency with which I knit this while in a bar and/or while chatting with lively, engaging, and downright funny fellow knitters.


I used some lovely sock yarn that I bought in Ottawa earlier this spring: Blue Faced Leicester Sock by Riverside Studio in Quebec. The dyer is Kathryn, katdry on Ravelry, where she seems to be more active than her  Etsy shop (where I was unable to view the beautiful yarn that I know is there).

I added a couple of stripes of light gray that I took from the stash that Ann Weaver shared on our cruise. I wanted to set off the second triangle that starts about shoulder blade height. Of course, if you wear it wrapped around neck, the stripes appear every which way.


I used a new bind-off, taught to me by wonder-knitter Barb. One that’s looser and more stretchy, just right for the edge of a shawl that you want to drape every so loosely.

Instead of the usual knit 2, stitches then bind one off (looping one stitch over the next, resulting in one remaining stitch on right needle), you knit 2 stitches, then knit them together through the back. Like this:


This leaves you one stitch on your right needle. Knit one more, then knit 2 together through the back again. Repeat until the end of the row. The result is a nice, loose edge – like this:


I’m looking forward to getting reacquainted with the Albers Cowl.


Taking the “Eeks!” out of Steeks

August 5, 2013

One of the captivating aspects of knitting is the engineering of the craft. It’s ingeniously simple — everything’s made with two basic stitches — but the variety, complexity, beauty, and artistry are endless.

Various techniques are used to transform knits and purls into beautiful works of all kinds — fine lace, Fair Isle sweaters and mittens, cabled creations of all kinds.

Steeking is one of those techniques that can strike terror into the hearts of knitters. It’s basically cutting your knit-in-the-round creation and turning in the edges. Think of taking a pullover sweater and cutting up the front (from belly button to neck) and then turning under the edges and making button bands.

Since it’s much easier to knit multiple colors (like Fair Isle) in the round than going back and forth on straight needles, steeking is most often used with color work.

Barb came prepared to our steeling class with two elbow-length wristlets (which probably have a fancier name in real life).


Jackie came with a gorgeous and HUGE 30-year old pullover that she wanted to convert to a cardigan and tighten up along the sleeves. You can see why.


It’s the cutting that’s nerve wracking. What if it all unravels? How can I cut this beautiful thing I’ve created?

The magic is that it doesn’t unravel — at least, not if you’re using “sticky” wool. The fibers of each strand tend to stick to each other and don’t unravel. Plus before you cut, you crochet up both sides of your cutting line to hold down the stitches. If you have a sewing machine handy, you can use that instead of crocheting. Not surprisingly, none of us had brought a sewing machine on the cruise!


As each intrepid knitter prepared to steak, we gathered around to watch, take photos, and lend moral support.



On the final snip, we cheered. Knitters are such generous folk!

Shawls from the Top Down and Square from the Middle

July 30, 2013

In addition to the Albers Cowl, we’ve had workshops on knitting a top-down shawl and another on a square shawl, knit from the middle out.

Ann’s instruction has been spot-on — just the right mix of explanation, theory, and flexibility. She’s generous with her knowledge, which is extensive, clear in her instruction, and patient in answering questions and providing guidance.

Here’s the angular variation on her top-down triangle shawl. As you can see, it’s not strictly a triangle (it’s several) and not strictly top-down. The two “wings” give the finished product a lovely drape over the shoulders.


Barb, Cathie, and I all decided to knit the crescent variation. They’re both very speedy knitters. Cathie clearly put her new-found color theory skills to work:


(Not really. She’s using Noro Silk Garden. A couple of our fellow knitters don’t appreciate her sense of humor and were, quite frankly, puzzled when she bragged about how lovely her color combinations were.)

Barb’s using some lovely Paton sock yarn for hers. No photo yet, but I’ll remedy that soon.

I’m using some luscious hand-dyed Blue Faced Leicester Sock yarn by Riverside Studio that I bought in Ottawa earlier this year. I think it’s yummy (if still only a doll-shawl at this point).


I confess that I didn’t pay careful attention to the square shawl workshop because (1) I hadn’t signed up and wasn’t “officially” in the class and (2) I wanted to work on my two current projects rather than take on a third.

However, the square shawl construction is really clever. Square in the middle. Lots of picking up stitches along the edges and then knitting outwards, creating “spines” at each corner (just yarn overs that leave nice holes on each side of a center spine of 2 or 3 stitches). The sample she brought has gorgeous colors and drape, especially since she’s got the knack for wrapping and wearing just about anything.


Color Theory or Making Your Colors Pop

July 29, 2013

Day #2, Knitting Cruise: Saturday morning started with a workshop on color theory, which, in simple terms, is using colors that work together so that each color looks its best.

In our goodie bag, we each got a nifty color wheel, one more detailed than the one I recall getting in elementary school art class.


Contrast between and among colors is the key here. If you’re thinking, as I was, that contrast is light-dark (white, black, gray), you’re thinking too narrowly (as I was). The talented and charming Ann Weaver took us through a few other types of contrast:

hue: different primary colors (red, blue, yellow)

warm/cool: contrasting between the two sides of the color wheel — red/orange/yellow and blue/green/purple.

complementary: colors that are across from each other on the color wheel are contrasting. For example, red-green, yellow-purple, blue-orange (and variations thereof)

light/dark: also known as “value,” this is how a particular color looks on a gray scale. Ann said that, with practice, one can begin to see this type of contrast between colors by “squinting and looking sideways at the yarn.” When I did this, I saw blurry colors but had no ability to discern light and dark. Colors are gold, apple green, charcoal gray, purple, and cream.


A nifty black-and-white camera app on my phone is really helpful in seeing the values of different colors. These colors are different, but on the gray scale, several of them are the same.


Cool, huh?

Ann had all kinds of examples of the power of contrast — in knitting and in art. Think stained glass windows with all their red, blue, yellow — contrast so the designs can be seen from a distance.

We’re working on the Albers Cowl, designed by Ann, based on the paintings of Josef Albers. Ann brought lots of extra fingerweight yarn for people to choose from if their color combinations needed a bit more contrast. When she looked at the colors I’d selected, she recommended something darker than the charcoal gray I’d chosen for my dark color.

“Go darker,” she exhorted, “That’ll make all your colors pop.” And, with that, she placed a small ball of purple-y black yarn next to my other colors. She was right.


Knitting Cruise

July 27, 2013

I know that most people don’t understand knitting. It’s not just that they don’t know HOW to knit (although I’m pretty sure almost everyone could learn); it’s that they don’t understand how someone could enjoy knitting — and the company of fellow knitters — so much.

You can see it in their eyes, When I tell someone, even a friend or coworker, that I have a knitting blog, there it is:  a flicker of surprise and bewilderment. There it is again when I pull out my knitting on the subway or in a coffee shop.

Like most knitters, I’ve gotten used to this reaction and am not bothered by it at all. After all, some people love antiquing or baseball or Civil War history or golf or cycling or TV shows and will happily and regularly spend hours enjoying said pursuits. Variety is the spice of life and part of what makes humans interesting.

But people’s reactions have gone to a whole different level when I’ve told them of my summer vacation plan: “I’m going on a knitting cruise from Boston to Bermuda and back.”

Forget the flicker of surprise; it’s downright uncontainable. “A what…?”

It’s not a ship full of 2,200 knitters. Rather it’s a ship full of 2,200 people — from infants to octogenarians, from different states and multiple countries.

Amidst these thousands are about 50 people, nearly all women, who have come aboard with the added purpose of expanding their knitting skills, taking workshops from the amazingly talented Ann Weaver, and meeting fellow knitters — like Barb and Cathie, two terrific Canadian knitters who are warm, generous, and loads of fun (no surprise there).


I’m traveling with my Mom, who had such a great time on a similar but shorter cruise last summer to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick that I just had to join her. We set sail from Boston yesterday afternoon. First class is this morning. Stay tuned!


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