Posts Tagged ‘cowl’

Fearless Knitter Finished Objects

February 6, 2018

In November, I started teaching a Knit 101 class at Stitch House, one of Boston’s lovely local yarn stores (LYS). Starting at 9:00 on Saturday mornings, a group of about six or eight new knitters gather around the table for learning, creating, sharing, and only occasionally, cursing. The students include sisters, ages 7 and 9, so we try to keep our language in check!

Stitch-house-knit101

For their first projects, several knitters have made the Wham Bam Thank You Lamb Neckwarmer. Jean is seaming hers in the lower corner in the photo above. It fits my top requirement for a first project, namely that you’ll be able to finish in a reasonable amount of time and experience that surge of pride in your accomplishment. A cotton dishcloth (or washcloth, your choice) also fits the bill when it comes to a first project. Here’s Mary’s creation:

Wham-bam-lamb-cowl

When Helena finished her neckwarmer, she immediately texted her mother in Brazil, who was suitably impressed. Of course.

Wham-bam-lamb-neck-warmer

Julia made a super bulky cowl, which she was delighted to discover also made a terrific headband!

Julia-cowl

This past Saturday, her sister finished a hat, complete with pom pom, for a younger cousin. As you can see, she was delighted. And that’s what it’s all about.

Ella-pink-hat

What have you made that makes you proud? I’d love to hear your ideas for other good knitting projects for beginning knitters?

 

 

 

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Cozy Knits for a Birthday Girl

December 9, 2016

My Twitter feed is full of ideas for gift knitting. As we get closer to Christmas, there are more “quick knits” made with chunky, bulky, and super bulky yarn. Someone could probably track how the changes in yarn weights correspond with amount of time until Christmas. But that someone isn’t me because I’ve got gifts to knit.

First, a birthday gift for a beloved niece, a truly amazing young woman attending college in my hometown. She’s generous, curious, super smart, talented in so many ways — baking, theatre sound engineering, photography, poetry that touches hearts (this one’s been shared more than 70,000 times).

My heart warms whenever I think of her, which I’ve been doing a lot lately because I’ve been knitting love into every stitch of her gift.

gaptastic-cowl-fingerless-mitts

A GAPtastic cowl, which regular readers will know is a popular project for me and my knitting students, and a pair of fingerless mitts in matching seed stitch.

It arrived just a day after her birthday earlier this week (but was technically on time because it was mailed before her birthday — that’s my story and I’m sticking with it). Since the temperatures are below freezing during the day and well below at night, I’d say it arrived just in time.

Knitting Class: Small but Fierce

December 5, 2016

After several years of having 6 to 8 knitters around the table at each knitting class, I find myself with two very small sessions this fall. I don’t know what accounts for the change, and I’m not taking the lack of enrollment personally (at least most of the time!).

What these regular Fearless Knitters lack in number, they more than make up in their creativity, persistence, good humor, and ferocity. Discover a mistake (or many) a few inches into your circular scarf? Realize that the pattern on your stranded sweater is off by a few stitches? Learn the painful lesson that knitting while drinking red wine is not for the faint of heart? (Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about!) These knitting students tackled each project and challenge with vigor and commitment.

Christy, she of the Fox Cowl Hood, recently finished a luscious braided cable cowl. The yarn and pattern are from Purl Soho. With the temperatures dipping below freezing here in Greater Boston, you can bet this cowl will get a lot of wear.

file-dec-04-2-29-52-pm

Gillan’s half-way through a pair of chunky fingerless mitts. The pattern had both of us flummoxed for a while. (And by a while, I mean we each knitted and ripped it back two or three times!) Following it carefully resulted in two rounds of ribbing around the thumb gusset, messing up the rhythm of the seed stitch. Finally, I adjusted the pattern, substituting some PFB for KFB and some (P,K) for (K,P) repeats. Seems to have worked.

file-dec-04-2-29-14-pm

Marcia’s latest creation is a striped cardigan for a lucky baby-to-be. After finishing the neck at our last class, the only thing she’s got left to do is graft the sleeves to the body (underarm grafting, what a concept!) and add some buttons.

file-dec-04-2-30-21-pm

See the yarn near the neck? That’s all she had left — yet again, playing a high stakes game of Knitting Bind-Off Chicken.  Who says knitters aren’t risk takers?!

 

Foxy Knits: Update from Class

November 8, 2016

Christy joined my knitting class this fall and is making an adorable hood for one of her daughters. The Failyn Fox Cowl is knit with two strands of bulky yarn and has provided Christy with several opportunities to learn new techniques. For example, knitting in the round and, as you can see, seaming.

fox-hood-cowl-seaming

The ears are knit separately and include a crochet edging that nicely masks any uneven or not-quite-lined-up stitches. Since I’ve not yet fulfilled my goal of learning to crochet (it was on my summer wish list), we looked up “single crochet edge” in one of my many knitting books and she was on her way.

ears knit separately fox hood cowl

Since she has two daughters, Christy is planning to make a similar cowl for daughter #2. I’ll be sure to update you when she’s finished.

 

Another GAP-tastic Cowl

February 10, 2016

One of the most popular projects among my knitting students is Jen Geigley’s GAP-tactic cowl (or, if you prefer, infinity scarf).

The most commonly used yarn is the pattern’s suggestion, Lion’s Brand Wool-Ease Chunky, or its super bulky Thick & Quick. Being Fearless Knitters, though, my students sometimes substitute and create an adaptation.

For example, Gillan, who used a luscious, blue heathered GAP-tastic out of a yarn whose name she cannot recall. But it sure is beautiful.

2016-02-02 12.07.15.jpg

Starlight Gaptastic

February 8, 2016

As a non-monogamous knitter, I often juggle a couple few projects at a time, often ones that differ in complexity or portability. Socks that can be stuffed into a purse for knitting, without the need to consult the pattern, on the subway or waiting room (there’s a lot of waiting in life!). A shawl or scarf that requires regular or frequent pattern glances and more concentration.

When it became clear that I wouldn’t finish Hannah’s Chromatic Cowl by Christmas (or even Twelfth Night), I decided to cast on a quick GAP-tastic cowl (Wool-Ease Thick and Quick in Starlight).

Soft, chunky, and with a bit of sparkle…

Gaptastic-closeup

Just what a young actress needs on the cold streets of New York City.

MHD_gaptastic

Soft, Color-Shifting Cowl

January 19, 2016

After promising an update when I finished my second Chromatic Cowl, I completely forgot to post the finished product!

In the intervening week or two since my back seat knitting, I completed the cowl and grafted the two ends together with the Kitchener stitch. I must be doing something wrong with my provisional cast-on because I ended up with an uneven number of stitches — fewer on the provisional/waste yarn end. However, I cast on one a couple and grafted.

Blocking, as usual, was a tepid bath in the sink.

chromatic_bath

Drying this airy creation took only a couple of hours. Although I’m not thrilled with the similar color values of the dark gray and hunter green, I love the gradual colors changes.

chromatic-cowl-green

 

chromatic-cowl-neck

 

A Gossamer Cowl

January 14, 2016

From the moment Rachel walked into my knitting class wearing her Chromatic Cowl, I knew I had to make one — or two. “Gossamer” was the word that popped into my head when I felt the soft, fluffy lightness of this cleverly designed infinity scarf.

chromatic_rachel

According to Merriam Webster: gossamer: (1) a film of cobwebs floating in air in calm clear weather; (2) something light, delicate, or insubstantial. I prefer definition #2 but quibble with the “insubstantial” bit.

It’s knit with three strands of Aloft, an airy blend of mohair and silk from Knit Picks. The gentle shifting of color occurs when a single strand is used up and you add another. For example, 3 strands of purple becomes 2 strands of purple and 1 lavender. When the next purple is used up, you knit with 1 purple and 2 lavender. Then 3 lavender, then 2 lavender and 1 gray, etc.

Being a fan of purple, I made one in lavender, purple, and silver gray. Here blocking on a dish towel. I wasn’t thrilled with the unevenness of the color shifts, the result of my rather haphazard divvying up of the yarn skeins. But overall, I’m very pleased.

chromatic-cowl-blocking

So pleased that I soon cast on another in green hues for my favorite red head. I borrowed Marcia’s kitchen scale to measure the weight (in grams) for the various balls.

aloft-scale

I didn’t finish in time for Christmas nor have I finished it yet. But I made some good progress while riding in the backseat as we drove north for a few days of skiing. I’m not a very good passenger, especially when the driver is one of my children and the weather is messy, so knitting really helped me stay calm.

chromatic_backseat

I’m nearly finished and will have an update after I graft the two ends together.

Until then, tell me what’s on your needles these days?

 

Treasures from Knitting Class

December 19, 2015

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I love teaching knitting. One of the best parts is watching a knitter, novice or one with experience, work through a project — deciphering a pattern, fixing the inevitable mistakes, and finally finishing.

First up, Debbie, a beginner whose patience, good humor, and perseverance are remarkable. She has an eye for her work, which means she can spot mistakes quickly. And, as I say in every class, every knitter — even the most experienced– makes mistakes. Debbie started with a small cotton washcloth, my go-to first project. She’s now working on a scarf (more on that in a future post).

 Next, there’s my down-the-street neighbor Marcia, who’s zipping through projects like a whirling dervish. (Do they knit?!) Her first socks were finished just in time for teen daughter’s birthday. As you can see, she loves them.

 As the mother of two teenagers, Marcia’s become a late-night knitter whose found the soothing benefits of knitting while waiting up for the safe return of said teens. She recently completed a lovely and deliciously soft chromatic cowl.

 In time for Christmas giving, Pam completed a dropped stitch scarf for her teen son. He’s not usually a scarf wearer, but after holding this soft beauty, he declared that he’d definitely wear this one.

 Gillan, a fiber artist, has finished an exquisite sweater and hat for a friend’s child. Regular readers will recall Gillan’s sweater seaming challenge, which she obviously remedied.   I’m particularly fond of her choice of buttons, picking up on the fiery colors of the yarn.   I hope this gives you an idea of why I love these knitting students, whom I proudly dub “Fearless Knitters.”

Curlers in Her Hair

June 8, 2015

For the past few months, I’ve been monogamous in my knitting, working on Michael’s sweater with the hope of finishing it by Memorial Day, when it’s still cool here in Massachusetts. The sweater is finished, but it’s not done. But that’s a story for another day….

In the aftermath of finishing/not-finishing, I’ve cast on two smaller projects, neither of which will have size issues.

Last fall, I bought a skein of Kidding Ewe by Done Roving Yarns at Bee’s in Bar Harbor, Maine. “Cherries Jubilee” is a yummy mix of reds, purples, and greens that will make a lovely cowl or, in this case, a wimple.

First 2 inches of Old Shale Wimple

Yes, “Maria” has been running through my brain.

Second project: “A Good, Plain Sock” in Berroco Sox. This pair for Patrick, who casually commented that I’d knit socks for everyone in the family except him.

Good plain sock recipe

What’s on your needles these days?

 

 

 

Eclectic Cowl

March 24, 2015

Until I made an Eclectic Cowl for my old long-standing friend Beth, I’ve never known the artist who created the yarn for my project.

Diane, aka Lady Dye, is a talented local fiber artist here in Boston. Her “urban-inspired yarns” are inspired, in large part, by street art. Her hand-dyed, multicolored yarns are simply exquisite and the colorways are delightful. My skein was from JP Knit and Stitch in Jamaica Plain.

Eclectic_Cowl_Lady_Dye_Yarns

The pattern is simple and shows off the color changes beautifully. It reminded me, in many ways, of the Yarn Harlot’s Encompass Scarf (one of my favorites).

Dear friend Beth, whom I’ve known and loved since we were in grade school in central Maine, says she just loves her birthday gift. Doesn’t it look great on her?!

Eclectic_Cowl_Lady_Dye_Yarns

Know What’s Fast? Arm Knitting (seriously)

December 11, 2013

Inspired by Skye, an extraordinary young girl at the Friday knitting group at JP Knit & Stitch, and by a recent Wall Street Journal article and video, I decided to try something new.

As we sat together on the window seat last week, Skye created this loose, chunky, oh-so-soft scarf.

SkyeScarf

Totally intrigued, I bought a skein and the next day made a chunky circular scarf in about 30 minutes using only yarn and my arms. Look Mom, no needles!

ArmKnits

I cast on (using the long-tail method) 6 stitches and used two strands of yarn. I chose Malabrigo Rasta in Soriano, a lovely black-purple-gold combo that I hope will look good on the recipient, who has a new black down coat (to keep out the icy winds of NYC) and who wears a lot of black as she moves from dance class to stage and back again. Taking one strand from inside and one from the outside of the ball ensured that I ended up with the same amount.

ArmCowl

It took me two attempts to get the hang of the “knitting” so the total time was closer to an hour. Looking back, I think that I got the stitches and movements right but it looked so different that I thought I’d made a mistake. Stitching together was pretty straight forward (no needle involved).

I generally don’t care how long a project takes and have been known to rip out projects twice or even three times in order to get the finished product to come out right. But I must admit that a bit of instant gratification now and then can be quite exhilarating!

ArmCowl2

Ambidextrous? I Think Not.

November 18, 2013

Just before I finished the second of K’s socks, I succumbed to the lure of my next project: the Diamonds Are Faux-Ever cowl.  It’s a Fair Isle style, knit with two yarns, one of which changes color, giving the illusion that you’re knitting with more than two.

fair isle style cowl

I modified the pattern slightly, starting with the solid green [Cascade 220 Superwash in Shire] rather than the multi-colored [Liberty Wool in Neon Parade].

This is my first attempt at Fair Isle so to save time switching between the two yarns, I’ve starting holding the yarns in separate hands. It took multiple attempts to find a “wrap” for my left hand that was the right blend of snugness without being constricting. I doubt I’ll make the switch to Continental style, but it’s fun to try something new.

As you can see, M’s basketball season is starting — at least, the practice part — just as the football season is winding down. Knitting in a gym is much easier and enjoyable than knitting outdoors in the chill and dark of November. Of course, K’s hockey season will start soon and knitting at an ice rink is — if you’ll pardon the expression — a whole different ball game.

When in Doubt, Read the Pattern

August 29, 2013

My Mom is full of old sayings, many of which are prefaced by “As my mother would say….” One of her favorites is “when in doubt, read the directions.” So true, so true.

I figured out why Square 2 of the Albers cowl was turning out to be significantly bigger than Square 1.  It wasn’t an inexplicable change in tension (I’m pretty steady in the tension department). Nor was it because the yarn used for the outer border of #1 was different than all the other yarns.

Nope. I’d just misread the pattern and had knit many more rows than I should have.

I also figured out that ripping out is much less distressing when done while drinking beer on the ferry to a beautiful island.

RippingFerry

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.

colorwheel

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.

cowlyarns

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.

cowlgrayscale

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.

cowlyarns2

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