Monday, 28 January 2008

Teddy Bear sweaters

Here's is my class from Saturday at the DKC Winter Workshops ( with their "First Top Down" sweaters.

Over the 3 hours they learned all of the techniques that go into a top down cardigan, worked several different types of increases and why they are good for cardigans or pullovers, and got to take home a little teddy bear sweater which is almost finished.

And they all look happy about it too. They were a great class and we had lots of fun making these little sweaters.


Sunday, 27 January 2008

Continental Knitting

Yesterday at the DowntownKnitCollective's Winter Workshop I had a great day.

I taught a group of knitters how to knit in the continental method. Learning to knit with the yarn in your left hand is an excellent technique for knitting 2 colours in a row for a repeating pattern in the round. If you know 2 methods of knitting you can work the colour pattern with one colour in your right hand (English throwing method) and one colour in your left hand (continental picking method), but it is also an exercise in frustration. It's like learning to knit all over again. You can hold onto the needles fine but the tension in your left hand sucks and you feel awkward as hell but hopefully after a bit of practice you get an ah,ha moment where you can say I think I got it, I think I got it! And now practice, practice, practice.

Purling, on the other hand, is an entirely different experience. It is not easy. It remains awkward for a long time. It requires that you move your left hand forward and backwards in a fashion not known to the English throwing method knitter. It is not necessary for knitting repeating colour patterns in the round and although it seems if you know how to knit in a method you should also know how to purl I would approach 'the purl' with patience, lots of sleep and a low expectation of any sort of mastery in a one hour class.

I knit in the continental method. I was taught the English throwing method as a child (my mother is from good english stock) but it didn't take. I turned to crocheting (it was the 60's) little knowing that crocheting (and holding the yarn in my left hand) was setting me up for my future in knitting. In university I was taught again to knit but in the continental method and that was it. My way was clear and my knitting path set from that moment.

I never try to convert knitters to the other side entirely. But learning to knit in this second method can make colour knitting a joy to work. Holding one wool in one hand and a second colour in your left hand means that the two wools never tangle, lowering your frustration level, you also would work all the colour work on your chart in your off hand and work the background in your good hand (your regular method of knitting) which can make chart reading easier.

Besides, learning something new is good for your brain. And now practice, practice, practice.


Friday, 25 January 2008

Think Big

Tomorrow I'm teaching at the Downtown Knit Collective's Winter Workshops in Toronto . And to make it more exciting, I'm taking the new GO train service from Barrie. This is going to be great. I drive the first half an hour to Barrie and then someone else does the next couple of hours for me and I can sit in my train seat and knit. Yes! This is new to us since November 2007 and this is my first chance to try it out.

My class is going to knit their first top down cardigan based on the Buttons Cardigan pattern No seams to sew, no finishing to do, yes it's for real you are not dreaming. I'll take some adult samples too since this is not just for children. This is now my favourite way of knitting. There are endless possibilities within this system of knitting.

Imagine this cardigan with a cable down either side of the buttonbands, or a fancy edging where the garter stitch border is, you could make a lace collar, cabled buttonbands, an A-line shape to make it swing, well you get the picture.

My students will be making a tiny sample and thinking big I hope.
- Deb

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

orange you glad i didn't say banana?

The orange Tiny Top Down is finished. It took longer than expected just because I kept falling asleep. You would think the colour alone would keep me awake but such is the power of a cold at full bloom that not even the dazzling colour could keep me from nodding off.
You might be noticing that the little sweater is very close in colour to the wall colour (top of photo) and you would be right. I seem to be in the middle of some strange attraction to orangeness. I hope it won't pass too quickly. It took 3 coats of paint to do those walls and I'm not doing them over in a hurry.
I am now finished the orange knitting for the moment and on to green/purple knitting, at least I am if my idea works out tonight. Just a collar done so far and some idea of stripes for the body. One year old sized sweaters are just lovely to knit, so small, so perfect, sooo quick! So let's get back to it, eh.
- Deb

Saturday, 19 January 2008

a day in

It's a perfect day to spend inside knitting and listening to my audio book. The snow is piling up but today I'm watching it from my knitting chair, drinking lots of hot tea and hoping the cold remedies are kicking in.

I got the yoke done on my sample and had just worked the Divide Round when I had to pack it in last night. Once your head hits your knitting 3 times it's time to go to bed. Or is that when your book hits your face ... either way I'm picking it up today and should get a fair ways along. This is the Tiny Top Down pattern and yes the new Cotton Tweed colour is that orange. We have 5 new colours and now for the skill testing question 'what are they called?' - Orange, rhubarb (pinky red), flannel (grey), birch (mid brown), & emerald green. Got it in one.

One of my favourite increase is still the backward loop. I wrap the yarn around my finger one way for the first increase, knit one stitch, and wrap the yarn the opposite way for the second increase. On the next round I knit into the back or front of the loop whichever will twist the yarn a second time to tighten up the loop. Can you see it there? There is only one stitch between the 2 increases but the legs of the backward loops make the raglan line wider and what I especially love is that it doesn't interrupt the flow of my knitting too much.

Your choice of increase on a pullover is especially important since you work one round with increases followed by a second round of plain knitting. If you are part way through a round and the phone rings, you come back to pick up your knitting and ... oh, no, which round am I on, the increase or knit round? Your increase should show you. With the backward loop either there is a loop on the needle which you will knit (knit round), or there in no loop which means you need to put a loop on (increase round). It saves confusion and that little line of ticks on the side of your pattern as you try to keep track.

I'm heading for my chair and to listen to what Richard Jury is going to do next because he is once again in a muddle (Martha Grimes audio book). First to boil the kettle.


Friday, 18 January 2008

hemp goodie

I did get another goodie at the TNNA show (the national needlework show). Some delicious hemp/cotton/modal from, 'hemp for knitting'. It's DK weight and with my 50gm ball I think I will try a little scarf or something. I really liked working with the wool/hemp. The deep V tunic sweater is still to be finished and written up but it's at the top of my list of things to get done soon.

Sorry for the abrupt posts here but since I've been back I have succumbed to a horrible cold and can hardly think straight. The worse will pass in a couple of days but right now I'm having trouble thinking straight. I have 2 new colours of Cotton Tweed to knit samples in for the next show. Some no-think knitting is what I can handle at the moment. I'll start tonight. And hopefully I'll be a little more coherent in a couple of days.


Thursday, 17 January 2008

I Survived another TNNA show

Here we are at the office in Long Beach California. It's just like home. Inside you will find every kind of sweater and knitted garment you could ever wish to see. There were several fibre companies from Australia and South America. There are more entrepreneurial women in this building than you could every imagine, young women selling beautiful bags, late bloomers selling patterns and books (that would be me) and lots and lots of fibre. Knitting is still alive and well.

There is no water in that pool but there are open air corridors which is unheard of here. The snow might have something to do with that.
Flowers, can you believe it! And green grass and people walking around in short sleeves - not me of course because you just can't trust that warm weather, it's January people!
And saving the best to last. This is Karen, a finisher with the Alamitos Bay yarn store, wearing a Ripples Top and it was beautiful. (I think I caught her winking at me.)
It was a good show, met lots of people and got a new pair of reading glasses . Now I have several pairs of superior readers. Thanks Becky.
Back to work. Just putting the finishing touches on the lace socks and it will be time to think up some new stuff.
I did get a couple more goodies but I'll show you tomorrow with pics.

Friday, 11 January 2008

Just to say hello

Just to say hello from Long Beach, California. The weather is terrific and we've been busy setting up, running around, meeting and greeting other vendors we know, just the general hubbub of getting ready. Today the store owners come in to see what's new and take a look at the patterns and books. We're pumped.
Today I'll take some pics so you can see for yourself.
Wish you were here,

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

I'm Ready

I have 2 books, 2 sets of audio books on CD, 1 sock project started and a second lot of sock wool (which i of course will never get to), samples of our wares, trail mix (because we could get stranded with no food), and some clothes. I think I'm ready to get on a plane tomorrow for the TNNA (national needlework show) in California. It's 6pm and it's all stacked by the door and now a long evening stretches ahead of me as I wonder what I have forgotten. Got batteries for CD player and camera - check. Some folks I'm sure just glide through the preboarding week. I pack and unpack a couple of times and curse because I don't own an umbrella or light coat. Oh well too late now. Scissors are in the bag I'm checking (lost my swiss army knife with the cute little scissors last time) - check. I suppose all of this is easier the more you do it but I do go to about 3 or 4 shows a year. It just doesn't get any more relaxed. Is that a zit!!

I have a movie to watch tonight and a sleepless night ahead and then I'm off at 6:30am. Yeah!
See you on the other side of the continent.

Monday, 7 January 2008


I finished a toque today for my son who had requested a sunshine yellow hat to go with his turquoise jacket and red snowpants. I think I got the colour right. It's the Family of Toques pattern with an adjustment. It was deemed too pointy. The decreases are worked every other round which I did until I had 11 sts between each of the decrease points then I worked the decreases every round. It rounded out the top to his satisfaction. He wears it like this with no turn up of the brim. It's the way it's done now apparently and who am I, a mere parent, to dictate anything that has to do with fashion. I'm just glad to see a handknitted item out there being used. Right now he's out snowboarding and this hat has just been washed, after gaining approval, and is drying out so I have no fashion shot to show you.

But this is the fashion shot from Christmas of the handmade hats, made by Lynda, on my two kids (right) and my nephews (left). I know that my son has worn his red hat every day since he got it.

Handknits are back on the slopes and my son is the envy of all his friends.



Sunday, 6 January 2008

A Mixed Start

A very mixed start to the new year. A funeral, which went very well, and we saw lots of relatives we haven't seen in years. That part is wonderful but it's sad when someone is no longer with us. My husband wrote a song for his mother and sang it at the service which was very special to all of his family since his mother was a poet.

All this compounded by our car not starting that morning, a call to CAA and still nothing, a frantic call to a rental place for a car because we live 2 hours from the city. We did make it with minutes to spare, whew.

The weekend also included my daughter in the playdowns to the Scotts Tournament of Hearts, a women's national curling event here. Her team got through their Zone before Christmas and this weekend we were cheering at Regional level. Sixteen teams there and 2 go on to the Provincials. They were not the ones to move on but they did fairly well leaving only 6 teams to battle it out when they lost and had to bow out. They had very close games and after playing for 2 1/2 hours it usually came to down the last shot to decide the game. Very close, lots of nail biting but always great to watch your kid doing what they love to do. There are several more competitions left, Mixed, Varsity (UofGuelph) and another woman's competiton which I forget the name of. I do love spending my weekends in curling clubs, I mean it. I've curling since I was 14, my parents both curl, my sister curls, my husband curls, my son curled before snowboarding kidnapped him, and I love to see my daughter really enjoying the sport.

I was not idle. I have found that nail biting is non-productive in these situations so I, of course, was knitting. I have many sweaters which have been produced at curling rinks. I finished a shawl I have been working on. The Side To Side Pattern but with a difference. I have worked it so it has a shawl collar. A shawl with a shawl collar - OK lame I know.

But it's really comfy. I started with the Side to Side Shawl pattern #079 and worked to the centre, increasing on the neck edge. You then work a mitred corner which this time I didn't take up to the top, I left 20 sts at the neck edge unworked. This is the part that folds over when you wear it. I like it and it works. When you're finished the other side of the mitred corner you knit up the 20 sts to the top (neck edge) and continue to the other point by decreasing at the neck edge. It's the same as the pattern except for shortening the beginning of the mitred corner. This is worked in Naturally Cafe, which is discontinued, sorry, and it used 8 balls. It's a simple garter stitch knit and fun and comfortable to wear, especially with the collar modification.

Holidays are officially over, even though I went to work a bit last week I was waiting for this sports weekend to be over before I jumped back in.
So although this reads like I dashed it off, and since I did that's appropriate, I am back on program and next week we're off to California to the TNNA, wholesale needlework show. I'm jumping in with both feet.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

A Hint Of Lace

Isn't this beautiful? Betsy M. made this for her daughter Ann. I met Betsy when I taught in Houston with the Knit At Night guild ( ) in Sept 07.

This is the Hint of Lace from the 'Button Up Your Top Down' by Cabin Fever. In the book this sweater is done in blues and a second one in brown/pink. This is a lovely colourway and shows how different it can look with a change in colour.

We had discussed some changes she could make to the pattern for a better fit. Betsy was knitting the second size but wanted to make the sleeves a little slimmer. We decided that if she stopped working the increases on the sleeves when she had the number of stitches needed for the first (smaller) size and continued to increase on the body Fronts and Back until she had the number of stitches for the second size body she would get the sweater she wanted. She could then continue to work the body instructions for the second size and the sleeve instructions for the first size. It looks like this has worked out.

It's so cheerful, it makes me smile to look at it.

Thanks for sending the photo Betsy. I love it.