Posts Tagged ‘scarf’

Hitchhiker on a Train

October 25, 2015

Yesterday I zipped down to New York City to see Hannah as Katherine/Kate in The Taming of the Shrew at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

As always when I see her perform, I’m awed by her talent. As her mother, I can’t help but be biased in my assessment, but she’s really good!

I took along my Hitchhiker to knit on the train. Almost done with the first ball (of 2) of Liberty Lite.

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The Mysterious Power of the K-word

May 6, 2014

I had the great pleasure of attending a party Saturday night to celebrate the 10th anniversary of a friend’s “kicking cancer’s ass” as the invitation from her husband and daughters said. I’m a firm believer in taking joy in the moment no matter how fleeting — whether it’s a drowsy morning hug with my sweet husband, a brief happy dance for a successful audition by the child at the end of the phone,  a high-five for a completed homework assignment, or a prayer of thanks for… just about anything.

Something as major as 10 years cancer-free is definitely party-worthy. The house was filled with friends, laughter, stories, hugs, good food, and plentiful beverages. Since the friend is someone I’ve gotten to know through knitting (she’s taken a couple of my classes and is a quick study indeed), it was my first time meeting some of her family and friends. Being introduced as “my knitting teacher” is a somewhat weird experience — not because it’s not an accurate identifier but because of the reaction it prompts.

Putting the adjective “knitting” in front of a noun definitely changes the way people, of the non-knitting type, respond. It induces a bit of nervous laughter  and some apparent discomfort and is apparently a near-conversation killer. If I were introduced as “a teacher,” I’m quite sure the questions would flow — what age or grade or subject? where? how long? You get the picture. But a knitting teacher? The adjective has tongue-typing abilities. The Yarn Harlot was the first person to point this out to me. She’s a New York Times best-selling author (several times over), but when she explains that she writes about knitting, it’s a near conversation killer. Remarkable really.

In other news, Rachel turned this lovely work-in-progress of a few weeks ago

infinity

into a luscious infinity scarf fit for a stylish and discerning pre-teen.

RosieInfinity

Class time

March 22, 2014

I’ve said before how much I enjoy teaching knitting, and my current class is no exception. Once a week, these six intrepid women gather around the table, needles in hand, patterns laid out and personally annotated, and they dive into their projects. Chatting, whispered counting (34, 35 — damn, I’m supposed to have 36!), an occasional curse, and laughter abound.

Everyone gives a little update and has a question or two about how to proceed (dropped or added stitches are common). We break after about a half hour for a brief lesson — how to join yarn, how to bind off, different ways to cast on, common pattern abbreviations — and then it’s back to the individual projects.

Rachel announced that her tween daughter turned up her nose at the North Face knock-off hat — with cables! — that her mother had created. We admired the hat and commiserated over the fickle fashion tastes of children.

RachelHat

She’s also working on a luscious infinity scarf for the same daughter. If she doesn’t like this one, I’d invoke the “two strikes and you’re out” rule. Although, given my soft heart and love of knitting, I probably wouldn’t implement said “rule.” I don’t know what yarn she’s using. I’ll check and let you know.

IMG_3215

The highlight of the past week, at least for me, was Erin’s first finished project — a small cotton washcloth (or dishcloth) in a variety of stitches: garter, stockinette, seed. She cast on, tinked back to correct errors, switched stitches every once in a while, learned that starting or ending with garter stitch will keep the edge from rolling, and bound off.

IMG_3216

She’s justifiably proud, don’t you agree?

ErinWashcloth

 

Late Winter Knitting Classes

February 12, 2014

After the success and enthusiasm of last fall’s class — from Seema, our intrepid novice, to Judy’s first sock — I’m happy to offer two new classes: one for beginner’s and one for intermediate knitters.

I sent the following email to about 25 local friends this morning and looking forward to the responses.

What’s on your needles these days?

Beginner Knitting

Would you like to learn to knit?
Do you know the basics but are ready to move beyond a scarf?
You’ve got knit & purl stitches but don’t know how to bind off or fix your mistakes?

In this class, you’ll make a lovely hat and develop a strong foundation of skills so you can continue knitting different types of projects with confidence. You will learn how to: cast on, knit, purl, decrease, increase, knit back and forth, knit in the round, knit on double-pointed needles, bind off, and read a basic pattern.

6 Tuesday mornings: Feb. 25, March 4, 11, 18, 25, April 1
9:30am – 11:30am
Cost: $90
Location: Newton Centre

Materials needed: Approximately 175 yds heavy worsted wool (approx 4-5 stitches per inch on size 8-10 needles), size 9 16″ circular needles, size 9 double-pointed needles, stitch markers, darning needle.

**Class size limited to 8 **

Becoming a Fearless Knitter: Intermediate Knitting

This class is for knitters with some experience who are ready to learn something new and become more confident. If you are working on a project of your own and/or are ready to challenge yourself with cables, lace knitting, chart reading, socks, or other knitting skills, this is the class for you. We’ll work in an open workshop setting where instructor and fellow knitters support each other to create and finish knitting projects.

6 Thursday mornings: Feb. 27, March 6, 13, 20, 27, April 3
10:am – noon
Cost: $90
Location: Newton Centre

** Class size limited to 8 **

To Register:

 Leave a comment with your contact information, knitting experience (if any), and — for the intermediate class — what you’d like to learn. Payment information, address, and a list of materials needed for the first class will be sent promptly.

About Me

I’ve been knitting off and on for several decades and absolutely love it — the portability, the creative outlet, the solitary and social aspects of knitting, the pleasure of finishing something, and the joy of giving or wearing. I’ve taught knitting off and on for the past 8 years in a variety of settings.

My first post — back in May 2010 (!) — highlights some of the reasons why I love this craft.

 

Strange, Sacred Time

January 9, 2014

The most recent cold snap has broken and the pipes in the second floor bathroom have thawed — without bursting, again. The contractor from whom we bought our house ran pipes up an uninsulated, exterior wall and didn’t add any heat to the bathroom — duh! We leave the taps and shower dripping and put a space heater in when the wind chill gets below 10F, but that wasn’t quite enough for the recent deep freeze. Suffice to say, the water is again flowing and the pipes have not cracked. (Fingers crossed, salt over shoulder, etc.)

Christmas came and went and was lovely, if a bit strange this year. All agreed that we had an awesome tree. I think every Christmas tree is beautiful just by being, but this balsam was particularly lovely and well-proportioned even before it was decorated with our extensive ornament collection. The decorating festivities included Grandma, lots of laughs, and only two broken ornaments.

XmasTreeGiggles

We’ve entered a new part of our life journey over the past month or so since my father-in-law, who lives nearby and has been in a rehab facility for six weeks, decided after nearly six years of kidney dialysis and a failing body (multiple spinal fractures, constant pain, limited vision) that he doesn’t want to die in an ambulance or in the emergency room. He’ll have his last dialysis treatment in 10 days and will then go home where he can die in peace — without pain, surrounded by the familiar and the loved — including his wife of 52 years and his remarkable daughter and son (my sweet husband).

To be sure, it’s sad, but it’s not tragic, and in some ways, it’s a sacred time. His decision and planning, aided in large part by son Patrick and daughter Claire, have given his family and friends a gift in the opportunity to express their love and appreciation to him. It’s a gift to himself — although it may not feel that way all the time — to be able to hear those expressions, to accept them with a humble and generous spirit.

On the knitting front, Kevin was pleased with his new socks even though one is a bit too big. I took my circular scarf down to the wire — knitting during cocktails on Christmas Eve and weaving in the ends on Christmas Day. Thanks to Claire for capturing me in all my knitterly glory!

XmasEveKnitter

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

Quick, sparkly, frilly

January 23, 2012

My mom’s knitting group friend, Barbara, was right when she told me that Triana Lux would knit up quickly. Only 5 “stitches” wide, it’s a very short trip back and forth on the needles.

As I noted previously, the yarn is more like a fishing net than traditional yarn. Since the loops are a set size, your tension and needle size don’t make a whit of difference.

I’m not much of a sparkly, frilly person (and this photo doesn’t show the sparkle well), but I’m a big fan of finishing. And this was fun.

scarf knit with Triana Lux novelty yarn

Something novel

January 10, 2012

When it comes to yarn, I’m pretty conservative, so I was surprised at my recent purchase of a skein of the kinda crazy Triana Lux by Katia. Described as a “novelty, mesh yarn,” it’s reminiscent of a fishing net.

You work only with the top series of loops, leaving the rest of the “net” hanging. Since the size of the loop is set, your tension doesn’t matter nor does your needle size.  I used wooden size 9 needles since the yarn was pretty slippery, but it doesn’t really matter what you use. The whole thing was rather slippery and looked like a tangled mess of slightly sparkly cream and grays.

(Yes, those are Christmas tree lights reflected in the table. We keep the tree up until Epiphany. It’s down now, and the house feels a bit naked. To compensate, I continue to knit.)

Since I don’t yet have a photo of the finished product, I’ll introduce you to Barbara, the lovely knitter who convinced me to buy this funky yarn. She’s part of my Mom’s weekly knitting group. More on them later, too.

My Kind of Scarf

March 4, 2011

Many of the beginning knitters I’ve taught think their first project should be a scarf, more often than not, a basic garter stitch scarf.  I generally counsel them against this, pointing out that scarves are really, really long and can get veeeeery boring very fast.

I’ve written about moving beyond scarves before. I might suggest a neck warmer — which is really a short, wide scarf turned on its side and buttoned — or a hat, which allows you to learn decreases or even cables.   My favorite first knitting project by a student was a golf club “cozy.” How cute is that?!

first knitting project: knit golf club cozy

But now I’ve discovered my go-to recommendation for a first project: the Encompass Scarf by the wonderful Yarn Harlot herself (scroll down post).

circular scarf

A circular scarf that you wrap twice around your neck, this lovely is an easy and relatively quick knit. It’s a good first knit for the following reasons:

– includes 4 different patterns (garter, seed, moss, and a modified rib of sorts) so there’s variety — thereby avoiding the boredom that hits after 6 inches of a garter stitch scarf;

– practicing different stitch patterns gives you a sense of accomplishment and helps you develop an eye for patterns. It’s a wonderful feeling to realize when to switch stitches without looking at the pattern — trust me, high cleverness factor is important, especially to a beginner;

– knitting in the round is a great skill (again, cleverness factor) that you’ll use in many other projects — hats, sweaters, socks — even golf club cozies!

Next time I make Encompass, think I’ll put together different patterns. Let the learning continue!

Knitting on Deadline

November 13, 2010

One of my favorite sayings, courtesy of a college friend who often finished her papers in the wee hours of the morning, is “Pressure makes diamonds.”  Some of us work well under pressure; others don’t.  I’m somewhere in between — deadlines are motivating, but I don’t always end up with my best product.

I don’t often knit on deadline.  Usually I work on projects at my own pace with no real “due date.”  Even baby hats and blankets are still welcome gifts when the wee one is a few months weeks old.

My most recent project was an exception. My lovely niece requested a scarf for her 13th birthday — a very specific scarf: a Ravenclaw House scarf from the Prisoner of Azkaban movie. After some online research, I learned that the scarf colors were to be navy and bronze.  Bronze?  It’s a metal — not really a color.  Where was I going to find bronze yarn?

Enter the helpful ladies at The Island Yarn Company.  In a mere 15 minutes, they’d come up with the perfect solution.

two yarns to combine to make bronze

Two “yarns” from Feza:  “Teza Taniazi Iplik,” a golden ribbon, and Mezmerize, a copper novelty yarn. Together, they combined to make the perfect bronze.

Ravenclaw scarf knit in Philadelphia taxi

Knowing that someone was waiting for the finished product, I knit as often as possible — even in a slow-moving taxi while on my way to a client meeting (after knitting on the plane, of course).

I’d planned to include a short fringe but encountered two challenges.  The first, fraying ribbon, wasn’t insurmountable once I discovered that the end of the ribbon melted when heated with a match.

The second challenge turned out not to be a challenge at all. The recipient didn’t want a fringe. Whew!

Ravenclaw House scarf

Hoping to get a photo of dear, newly-minted teenager Phoebe sporting her scarf soon.

Beyond Scarves: Ideas for a First Knitting Project

June 12, 2010

When asked what they’d like to make for their first knitting project, many of my students suggest a scarf.  I encourage them to try something else.

It’s not that I’ve got something against scarves (in fact, I’m particularly partial to the Noro Stripe).  It’s that a scarf takes so darn long to finish.  By the time you’ve gotten the hang of knits and purls, you discover that you’ve got about 3 feet more to go before you finish. And the thought fills you with dread…. (A tip: if you’re sick of your starter scarf, turn it into a neck warmer. Finish it at 22″, add a couple of buttonholes, and you’re done!)

Finishing is the key to a successful first project. A first knitting project should be something:

  • you can finish in a reasonable amount of time (over the course of 3 or 4 weekly classes or about a week);
  • that gives you the chance to learn something more than casting on, knit, purl, and binding off — like increases, decreases, or mixing colors and stitches;
  • most importantly, you should finish with a sense of accomplishment and excitement about your next project.

Some examples:

A cotton facecloth with changes of color, garter and stockinette stitches, slipped stitches across rows.

Cotton knit facecloth

A golf club “cozy” with a pom-pom — knit by a student in my beginning knitting class.

knit golf club cozy

Baby hats — in any color, multiple designs, colors, yarns. If you don’t know a baby, make a hat and send it to your local hospital.  They have babies whose wee heads need to be covered in love.

four knit baby hats

A hat for yourself or a friend.  As you can see, Ashley was thrilled with her first project — she’s radiant!

Dreaming of Noro Striped Scarf

May 21, 2010

In my nearly five decades of life, I’ve learned a few things about myself. Fear not, I won’t share them all. Although I consider myself an “in the moment” sort of person, grateful for the many blessings in my life (and there are many) and rarely wishing for something else, I often find myself looking forward to the Next Wonderful Thing.

As I continue to make slow-and-steady progress on the lovely Cleite shawl (nearly 3 rows at Kevin’s baseball game yesterday), it is slow going indeed.

It shouldn’t surprise me, then, that I’ve found myself dreaming of the simplicity and creative ingenuity of the Noro Stripe scarf by the talented Brooklyn Tweed (who, in addition to being a great knitter, takes stunningly beautiful photographs of knitted creations).

Noro Stripe ScarfLast year I knit two, and still have one that I’ll give as a gift to someone whose neck is chilly. Noro Silk Garden is lovely to work with, feels great in your hands, and comes in many different color variations.  I picked two that blended some of my favorite colors (even though I’m not the wearer of the scarf).

What I love about this scarf:

  • very simple 1×1 ribbing (K1, P1 over odd number of stitches) looks like stockinette stitch on both sides, so there’s no “wrong” side;
  • Noro changes color all by itself so the stripes just emerge;
  • it’s knit with two different balls of yarn, in two different colorways, so the stripes interact. You knit two rows with one ball, then two with the other ball, then back to the first, etc.  The “extra” yarn in between rows is kind of invisibly absorbed along the edge. Nothing to weave in or join.

Lovely, yes?

Noro Stripe Scarf rolled up


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