Thursday 31 July 2008

Set-in sleeve

Moving right along on my summer braids ( I thought I would show you how you can put a set-in sleeve in any drop shoulder sweater. It does improve the look of the sweater for most women. It brings the drop shoulder line closer to your real shoulder and gets rid of some of the bulk under the arms.

This sweater is worked in one piece from the bottom up. When I got to where the underarm is I put 4" worth of stitches at each underarm onto spare yarn to hold until I was ready to work the sleeves - 2" from the Front and 2" from the Back, plus one side seam stitch in the centre. Work the 2 Fronts and the Back flat to the shoulder and attach the shoulder seams.

To work the sleeve: I threaded the underarm stitches from the spare yarn onto my short circular needle. Then with the right side facing, I picked up & knit 1 stitch, placed a marker, picked up & knit 3 stitches for every 4 rows up the vertical side of the Front to the top of the shoulder and then down the other side, placed a marker before picking up & knitting the last stitch. Reality Check: You have the 4" of underarm sts sitting on the needle, plus one picked up stitch on either side of them, then the markers.
I work BACK & FORTH around the sleeve between the markers as follows (do not work across the underarm stitches). The pick up & knit row was with the right side facing (you would be at the clear marker after the pick up row). Now *Turn and with the wrong side facing, slip 1 stitch, slip the clear marker, work in pattern around the sleeve to the white marker, slip marker and P2tog (1 picked up stitch and 1 underarm stitch). Turn and with right side facing, slip 1 stitch, slip white marker and work in pattern around sleeve to other (clear) marker, slip marker and SSK (1 picked up stitch and 1 underarm stitch). Repeat from * until all of the underarm stitches have been used up except for the centre one (you are on a right side row). Remove the markers and work a M1 before the centre underarm stitch, place new marker for beginning of round for sleeve, knit centre stitch, M1 (this mitigates any holes) and now work round and round, working your decreases on either side of the centre underarm stitch. I've got about an inch done in the photo above.This is the side view. You can see where you have worked the attachment (the P2tog and the SSK) which works the stitch past the marker with one of the underarm stitches.
Kinda fuzzy but you can see I have attached the 2" worth of stitches and have started working round and round.
That's what the underarm looks like. I might be tempted to walk around with my arms up just to show off this bit of trickery.

Hey, that's what it's all about right - trickery!

Tuesday 29 July 2008

It's almost a sweater

That seems like a good stopping point for today. I always think the sweater is almost done at this point but of course I have the sleeves to do. I am more and more attracted to 3/4 length sleeves, hmmm, I wonder why. But I will persevere and finish these sleeves while watching videos in the evenings. Hopefully done by the end of the week. I also have the sleeves of the green sweater to do too. Lots of K2,P2 knitting ahead of me.
This sweater has set in sleeves. In this pattern I am going to pick up around the vertical edge of the armhole and working back and forth, attach the sleeve to the open underarm stitches as I go, then work round and round to the wrist. Most drop shoulder sweaters look better on women with an inset sleeve. It brings the drop shoulder line of the sleeve up closer to a woman's real shoulder. It also reduces the amount of fabric at the underarm. In most drop shoulder patterns worked in pieces, this is quite easy to do yourself by casting off stitches at the underarm (about 2" worth on each side of Front and again 2" worth at each underarm on the Back). Work your sleeve to the underarm and then knit flat for 2" which will fit into the set-in cast off of the Front and Back. In this sweater which was knit in one piece from the bottom up, all of the underarm stitches were put on spare yarn in one pass (4" worth at each underarm, 2" for the Front and 2" for the Back).
I have a couple of ideas I'd like to try out for more top down sweaters but I MUST finish these 2 sweaters first. I will finish, I will finish, I will finish.

Monday 28 July 2008

Knit, do other stuff, knit.

These are some knitting stix that Alana B (see sidebar) has made up for me as a prototype. I'll pass them by Lynda today but I'm pretty sure we are going to order some made up. They are sterling silver, light and perfect to close a shawl or sweater. We talked about making some sort of stix a couple of weeks ago and here they are, quite exciting. Do you like these?

And yay, I am making progress on my sample of the Summer Braids (
I finished the Back at a party on Saturday night and am now motoring up one of the Fronts. It was a women's night so not so strange to have a knitter in the group although I am the only one who pulls their knitting out at all times and keeps at it even after a couple of drinks. There was a different mix of women at this get-together and it brings home to me that my knitting is entirely accepted by my friends but is looked upon as an odd activity by other people. This doesn't deter me from pulling it out, I just find I have to explain myself or what usually happens is that my friends explain for me.

I have my knitting buddies where all, some outsiders would say extreme, amounts of knitting behavior is normal. But I have another set of friends where I am the only serious knitter in the crowd. The common thread between all of us is the 'serious' pursuit of creative endeavours as a life style. And we all do this in some different area but the cross over of common experience is still great. I was reading a book on the writer's lifestyle and it so mirrors my own knitting life that it was uncanny. My day, well today for example, will go something like this - get up, think about my blog, get my knitting out and take a picture, make some coffee, write my knitting blog, knit for a bit, go to the shop and count inventory YUCK, read a knitting book over lunch, count some more, go home and knit, eat dinner, knit for the evening. Does this in any way sound familiar to you?


Thursday 24 July 2008

slow going

I finished the booklet and needed a break so decided I would knit samples for the coming show season. But now that I've started I am not racing to the project to work on it. I'm knitting the Summer Braids ( and I like the pattern, I will like the sweater when it's done, I like the braid stitch pattern very much, and I like the yarn. So what is the problem?

Maybe it's because it is totally predictable. I know it will work out. I know it will be a lovely sweater. But that's all good stuff right?

When I design I have a vague idea of what I'm looking for and then I start knitting. As I work I think about what might come next. I try something and if it doesn't work, I rip it out and start over. This doesn't bother me a bit. I have a rule - never knit the same ball of yarn more than 3 times, after the third reknit I throw it out. I usually throw out one ball a project, that's a lot of ripping. I can duplicate stitch, I can reknit sections in the middle of a sweater, I can cut a sweater and redo parts of it, I can finish a garment, wash it and then rip out something and do it again. None of this is horrible - time consuming, yes, but horrible, no. Am I missing all of that?

Is the simple answer to my not rushing to knit my sample just that the challenge is not there? Possibly a tiny bit of boredom? I do have to pay attention to the patterns on the sweater or I will screw up so it's not that my mind is not engaged. I knit socks, even very plain socks, and don't run into this problem. So I am still at a loss and pushing myself to finish this sweater.

- Deb

Saturday 19 July 2008

Back to Knitting

I've not been doing too much knitting the last couple of weeks for some reason. The heat? Being on holiday? Catching up at the office from holiday? Working on the baby booklet? Who knows. But here's the shawl I want to finish up this weekend. I want to have shawls as a "feature" of the show in August in Schaumburg (spelling?) in IL in August so need to have a few more done.
The shawl is Deb's #079 - Side to Side shawl and it's very clever and cool to knit as you start at the left hand point and finish up at the right! The yarn is a yummy hand-painted silk from our friend Caroline of I have arranged with Paul Fogerty, the glass artist, to make up some iridescent fused glass shawl pins to match. I can't wait to see the two together.
And for those of you waiting for the baby booklet, I took it into the printer's on Monday. Of course then we decided to add another bit so I revised it and took it (again) to the printer's on Tuesday. Yesterday I checked the proof's and it will "go to press" this week. I'm hoping that we'll have it back early the following week.
Well, must run as I'm off sailing in a race (keel boat) with Sophy's husband and Dad. We raced on Wednesday night and came dead last ... good excuse though as we had a few technical problems. Really. We did! :) Hope we do a little better today.

no cable tutorial

I was working on the summer braids ( in my knitting class on Wednesday and one of my knitters asked how I could stand to fiddle with a cable needle to do the braids. Well, I don't. I wrote the pattern using a cable needle for the crossings in the braid because it is the standard way of doing it but I don't practice what I wrote in this case.

No cable needle please: All of these photos were taken in the evening because it's too d*&% humid to knit in the daytime now.A litle fuzzy but you can see that this is a braid (as opposed to a cable), one stitch is moving (crossing) from the outside of the 5 sts into the centre position, like braiding (plaiting) hair.
The Braid is 5 sts wide and counting from right to left, stitch#1 has been slipped in the last 2 rows and now is ready to be crossed over.

I drop st#1 off the needle and it sits where it was knit last (it was slipped in the last 2 rows so there is nothing to hold it near the needle). The Cotton Tweed isn't slippery so doesn't run at all and this is pretty safe. Safety Tip: After you drop stitch#1 off the needle you can give the loop a pull and make the loop nice and big.
I then knit the next 2 sts (sts#2 & 3) carefully so not to disturb the waiting loop.
I stab the waiting loop (st#1) and knit it. It is now in the centre of the 5 sts. Knit the last 2 sts (st#4 & 5).

Ta Da. One crossing finished.
Give me a minute here to get to the other crossing. Talk amongst yourselves .....

Here we go. I have worked 2 rows slipping stitch#5 and am ready to do the crossing.
Can you see that st#5 on the left is slightly elongated from slipping? This braid crossing starts with Knit 2 sts, to get into the centre of the braid.
Stitches# 3, 4, & 5 are sitting on the Left needle. We are going to cross st#
5 into to centre position by knitting st#5 next.
Insert your needle into the front leg of st#5 and move your needle tip in front of sts#3 & 4 so that it's in front of them all and knit the stitch. You can't slip the finished stitch off at this point so just leave everything there. Knit sts#3 & 4 and slip everything off the needle.

There it is. Give it a little tug. No safety net required for this one. It's very smooth. You don't have to worry about elongating st#5 because it has to be long to cross over.

It's as easy as that.


Friday 18 July 2008

Fall is coming

It's time to prepare for the Fall. Our show season starts in August with the Stitches Midwest show in Schaumberg IL, outside of Chicago ( We will be taking the Baby V booklet and the samples from that but we wanted to do some more adult garments in our Cotton Tweed. So I have started working on a reknit of the Summer Braids ( in Cotton Tweed Red. We have a matching red Circular Tank ( done already.
That's how it's knit, in one piece up to the underarm. It's interesting going back to knit something that I designed quite a while ago, in 2001. And I'm really enjoying knitting it. Here's a closer photo of the braids.

The braids are really fun to do and it is like braiding (plaiting) hair. The outside stitch of the 5 sts involved moves into the centre position from one side and then from the other side. They work up really flat and I love a stitch pattern which is easy to follow.
But I have other projects on the needles too.
I can't even remember when I started these socks but I finished the first one on Tuesday evening. They are in cotton/wool/nylon blend and I thought I should get them done before it's winter again. Ah, winter, nice to think about on a hot humid day.

I'm progressing down the sleeve of my new sweater. The sleeve seems tight but I am unused to wearing a garment like this (tighter fitting and shaped). The sleeves still have 76 sts which is lots but the ribbing is pulling in quite a bit. I don't know if the ribbing will relax with washing (hello, that's what a swatch is for) I guess my whole sweater will be the swatch, I never said I was very efficient about this designing thing.
It's very humid today and may not be a knitting day at all. Possibly I can sneak in a little bit later this evening.

Monday 14 July 2008

Ms Fix-it

Yeah, I was squeezed in there trying to do some work. Not knitting of course. I haven't gotten to the stage of sitting in corners with my knitting pulled over my head yet. This summer I am trying to do some fix-it work on my house and I thought I would start small and cheap, $2 and a new phone jack. My phone has been crackling so much that I can't hear people talking. For a week it was sort of restful but then I started thinking I might be missing things so yesterday I hit the hardware store.

I had to move the washing machine (that's the appliance there with the blanket on it with a piece of countertop on top of that - our kitchen is pretty small, this is our major countertop where we work, no working when the laundry is being done but otherwise it works great) anyway I had to move it and YUCK what goes on under there. It's a magnet for bits and pieces and OK there were a couple of floods so I guess that's why it's all stuck to the floor. I bet if some guy came in to replace my phone jack they wouldn't clean the floor first. It's clean now and another thing, why do the diagrams on the hardware stuff never match reality. The diagram is really simple, it shows 4 wires connected to 4 screws, what could be easier, except that I only have 2 wires. So I connected the 2 wires I had and waited, nothing blew up. I think the phone works now too.

I have been knitting, but I must admit I have been fighting with this hemp ponchette. Lana ( told me I might not like it - she knows I'm not a cotton knitter at all, but I really wanted to try it. The light went on the other evening - I'm fighting with my equipment. I have switched to a pointy needle with a longer taper and now it's wonderful and I'm happy to be working on it. I am a wool knitter by preference and knit loosely too so most of my needles are blunt. I have only recently started to knit lace and am struggling a little with that too. Maybe I need some new needles. Any suggestions?
- Deb

Saturday 12 July 2008

Mirror, mirror

I've come a long way on my sweater and I was trying to photograph myself in the mirror. It's really hard to do. I've edited out all of the photos with the funny faces I make when I'm concentrating.And then some friends dropped by after a bike ride and I greeted them at the door with my sweater on, with needles still sticking out of it, and they didn't bat an eye. They took a better photo of the sweater for me.

I still have to work on the sleeves but I can make some judgements now.

I like the overall shape of it. I don't know if the twisted stitches are worth the effort since they don't show that much. But my other thought was I should start them higher up. Maybe do an inch of ribbing and then start the twisted stitches after that. I think I like the twisted diamond in the back since it pulls it in at the small of the back. I found some great buttons at the shop, really light weight wooden ones. I made the buttonholes 6 sts wide and that was way too much so I sewed them smaller, to 3 sts wide, and am much happier with that.

I don't know about the neckband. Should it have a flipped over collar? Maybe not a huge one. I am definitely leaning that way. I could put some twisted rib in that too. All of the interest is in the bottom and I sort of like to draw the attention up to the face a bit more. It will look different once the sleeves are done. I think then I will be sure I need a big collar to balance it out. So far I pretty pleased with this and it's wonderful to do a big project again.


Wednesday 9 July 2008


I'm starting to play again and it feels good. I started this because I wanted to play with the wool from my stash. It's Briggs & Little sports weight and I'm knitting at a DK weight. Since it's a singles and pretty strong it is going well at this tension. I also wanted to try wider buttonbands and the ribbed sleeve. Then I thought I would extend the ribbing in a diagonal down the fronts and the centre back.
Just playing to see what happens. I like the ribbed sleeves a lot. I like the V of ribbing in the back. Then I thought I might put a diamond of twisted cables in the back too. I've reached with widest part of the diamond and am doing one fewer twists on each side every 6th row.
I did them on the Fronts too and I am going to continue to work one more twist each time so they'll continue to move toward the side of the cardigan and maybe down into the ribbing of the bottom edge.

Sort of fuzzy but you get the idea. I'm not done yet. I have switched to a smaller needle and am working the ribbing right around to make a cinched-in waist since I am now about 2" above my waistline. We'll see where this takes me. I would like to get a bit of a peplum affect at the back but I don't think that's going to happen. I could keep the twists on the Front moving around the sides and into the Back of the bottom edging. I'll see how far they'll go. I envision large buttons on this. I'll have to find quite light weight ones so they won't pull at the fabric. It may need a much larger flipped over collar too but I can decide later.

Back to it, I'm working on the waist now,


Monday 7 July 2008

Over for another year

I don't know if you've ever been to a folk festival, or any music festival I guess, but there is a fabulous feeling while you're there. I can't describe it adequately but there's an excitement, an uplifting and a coming together which lasts for weeks after it's over. The music is funny and touching and often political. Some of it you won't like and some will just hit you in the heart and bring a tear to your eye. You can go and talk to the performers if you want when they're walking around the grounds and they seem to be so pleased to talk to you. I don't know if it's being outside all weekend in the sunshine (and most years in the pouring rain at some point) and running into people you know who you probably haven't seen since last year. And talking to friend's kids who are all grown up now and sometimes have a new wee person with them too. My daughter came with her beau and he seems to be getting the idea of what it's all about (this is his second year - it's like a reunion, he said, we could come every year) - all right!
Here's father and daughter in their matching T-shirts which a friend of ours made especially to celebrate paul's release of his first CD.
This is 3 friends of ours giving a free songwriting workshop in the Artisans Village.
I'm afraid there was a dreadful lack of knitting done. I did about 2 1/2 rows but I saw one knitter knitting socks, another knitting a scarf and talked to a woman in the beer tent who was designing a top in ribbon for herself.
So for knitting content I have a photo of Fiona Cole (fiddler) and Maria Dunn. Fiona is a knitter and last time I talked to her she was knitting a lovely intricate scarf in alpaca (her first project - aahhh don't you love young folks).
- Deb

Sunday 6 July 2008

Mariposa weekend

It's a sunny beautiful weekend here in the sunshine city. Mariposa is in full swing and I've enjoyed a ton of great music. That's Hayden on the left with Joel Plaskett playing along on the right. I loved Joel Plaskett, his stage persona is very open and appealing. He's from Halifax as were many of the acts, from the maritimes that is. Lots of amazing talent there.
And there is Connie Kaldor on the right, with Cheryl Wheeler at her guitar. I like Connie but I love Cheryl Wheeler. I've seen her 3 times and have several of her albums. She's funny and poignant and a total frump until she opens her mouth. She has a great voice even though she sings about cats and potatoes. She also has lovely touching songs which she doesn't play so much at a festival.
Now up there is Loudon Wainwright III who is one weird dude but I have several of his albums too. He's there with his daughter Lucy. It was pretty cool to actually see him when his voice is so familiar.
Just a quick note since I'm sitting here with my name badge on and my volunteer T on ready to go out for the final day. It takes about 500 volunteers to do this one weekend. I've handed out several hundred flyers advertising for next years Forum workshops. I hope I get some response and interest. We'll see. Today I'm going to go see some acts I missed which were recommended in the Beer Tent last night when some of the gang got together. One of the great things about a home town festival is running into all kinds of people you know and talking about what you've seen.
Gotta go,

Friday 4 July 2008

Here today, gone tomorrow

The big news at the camp this year is that one big worry is off my dad's mind.
This big tree has been his worry. When we built the deck around the camp we didn't want to take down more trees than we needed to so decided to leave the large white pine tree there and build the deck around it (see last post, tree on left in the deck). But my dad has always worried that it might fall on the cottage. So now it looks like this:
Next year when it's dried out a bit we'll level it off and make a table top for it.

85' of pine tree fell right down there. The guy who lives across the road is a cutter and he did the deed. My dad said you wouldn't believe how good he is at handling his huge chain saw and directing the tree right where he wanted it to fall. It took out 2 small trees but there was nowhere it could fall where it wasn't going to take out something. So now we have a little more light, it's not raining pine sap on us and my dad is sleeping easier every time the wind blows.

I am almost to the divide round for my top down cardi. Still on the first 100 gm ball too.
- Deb

Wednesday 2 July 2008

Happy Ist and 4th of July!

Deb and I are up at "camp". A cottage is not a "cottage" north of Perry Sound. At that point it becomes "camp" as you are now in The North (which always has capital letters :)
You can see that this is NOT your stylish Muskoka cottage but rather, a real, comfortable, northern cabin. The deck is actually more square footage than the interior. You can't really tell from the photo but it also wraps around. And yes, we spend a lot of time out on the deck. This is the deck where Deb taught me to knit. She would work with me patiently (and not so patiently) and then send me off back to England where I would work on whatever I was working on and then when I ran into a problem I would put the knitting away until the next summer when we both were back at camp. Yes, it was quite a slow process to learn to knit as it was "pre-email". My first project was a sweater for Heather (our younger sister who does not *gasp* knit) which she still has, and my second was a sweater for Deb. Which I ... think ... she still has here up at camp although the last time I saw it, it was looking pretty tatty.
We are still working on the baby booklet and it's shaping up nicely. Fingers crossed, it will get to the printers next week some time. We've closed the business for 2 weeks (till July 14th), which is a first for us. We really (all of us including Sophy, our Shipping Goddess) need a holiday plus it's easier to do the final work when we're not trying to fill orders and answer the phone and so forth. Sophy has gone off camping with her family but did manage to email me a bunch of corrections before she left. We all work on this, believe me!
So I hope all the Canadians had a great Canada Day yesterday and I hope Independence Day is a good one for all our American friends!