Category Archives: knitting

Ravelympics Kicks Off!

Last night was not just the kickoff of the Olympics in China. It was also the kickoff of Ravelympics 2008 on Ravelry! What is Ravelympics you ask? It is a challenge to complete a knit or crochet project during the 17 days of the Olympics. I am on Team Freeformatins and will be working on a freeform hat.

If you want to join in on the fun, sign up for Ravelry and check it out

Guest Bloggers: Faina Goberstein and Dawn Leeseman

Faina Goberstein and Dawn Leeseman just published Casual, Elegant Knits. The book contains 24 projects that include hats, skirts, bags and lots more. The classic designs will be a great addition to your wardrobe!

Faina and Dawn were gracious enough to do a guest blog about their book and the inspiration behind it…

FG: Thank you very much for having us here with you today. We are very excited about our book and love to share our passion with others.

How/where did you get your inspiration for the designs in the book?

FG: During the two years we knew each other before this project, we always admired each other’s work. Every time we got together, we had a million ideas for different designs that were inspired by a similar taste in colors, yarns, and style of clothes. After such informal collaboration, the next natural step for us was to design together. Very soon we have realized that we have enough ideas for a book. It was not a difficult decision to make. Most of our thoughts were directed towards people with very busy lives. Our designs are stylish, casual enough for work, but also elegant enough to go to a nice restaurant, or on a date elsewhere. Our Funnel-Neck Sleeveless Top, for example, is made with a fine-gauge yarn and can be dressed up with a nice necklace for an evening affair. The same can be said about the Golden Duet Tank and the Watercolor Shawl.

DL: Working in a yarn shop gives me exposure to all aspects of the knitting world. I try to pay attention to what our knitters are looking for, sometimes I will see something knit up and say, “what if we use this silhouette with this yarn”. Faina and I are also able to look at each other’s designs and think up something that would go with the others design. Our Triple Pocket Bag in the “Elegant Afternoon” collection was a true collaboration. Faina wanted a bag to accompany the Driver’s Cap, she had a basic idea. We knew the stitch pattern needed to be similar to the Driver’ Cap, so we sketched it out, and I worked up a swatch, we met periodically as this bag was being knit up to make certain that the end result was exactly what we envisioned.

How long did you work to develop the designs?

FG: It took us a year to develop all the designs including all the writing, knitting, photography, and so on. After that it took another year to polish everything working with many wonderful people from Martingale & Co.

DL: We worked over two years from start to finish on the book. It was amazing how each collection came together. We had a few designs completed before we started getting our idea for a book. Faina has amazingly good taste and knows what to add to make those items a complete collection. We quickly realized how well we could work off of each other’s creations. We had several of our designs completed and the other design ideas were sketched before we contacted our publisher with the book idea.

What is your favorite pattern in the book?

FG: Oh no! This is a very difficult question for me. I love them all. They were part of my life for two years, you know.

I think Dawn’s felted bags are incredible. I love both of her men’s sweaters. I already made the Tweed Polo for my husband. The Watercolor Shawl and the Sheer Gauntlets are beautiful as well. I am a big fan of Dawn’s work anyway.

The most fun projects for me, out of my designs, in terms of construction were the Little Flirt Skirt, the Vintage Hat, the Driver’s Cap and the Elongated-Neck Tunic. Also the Triple-Pocket Bag was so interesting to work on. It is the only project in the book, on which we worked together to design and to implement.

DL: Oh that is a very hard question, I really love them all. I think it would be easier for me to say what would I like to make, since I did not knit up the designs that Faina created, there are several that I would like to make up for myself. I think I would like to start with the Little Flirt Skirt. It is easy and so flattering.

What do you draw on for inspiration?

FG: I think it is a combination of factors for me. On the one hand, I am drawn to color and the texture of the yarn. I like deep and vibrant or gentle and soothing colors. In other words, there are not many colors that I do not like. On the other hand, since the time I was a little girl ,who played with paper dolls, I am fascinated by clothes construction. I always notice little details like buckles, pockets, buttons, pleats, etc. It excites me when I see a well-made garment with the unusual details.

DL: I look at what is going on in the knitting world of fashion, staying up on the current trends, however I also like the classics. I have a large collection of vintage patterns and books so there are days when I get out a stack of these patterns and spend time looking through them.

Faina and I inspire each other, when one of us gets an idea for a project the other one thinks of another garment or accessory that would complement that idea.

When you are knitting for fun, what do you like to create?

FG: I love to knit for my family mostly for my daughter and myself. Sometimes my husband and my son get lucky too. I still make my own patterns, but I do not have the responsibility of writing and explaining to someone what and how I did this. After the initial sketches and gauge calculations, I just create the garment as I go. It is very relaxing for me.

DL: I love to work on sweaters from other designers, maybe something in Vogue or IK. I love to use the exact yarn called for in the pattern, and perhaps choose a different color. I feel like it gives me a vacation from thinking too hard. I love tapping into someone else’s creativity.

FG: Andrea, thank you for the interest in our book. We hope very much that we offer an inspiration for people who are looking for some fun and stylish projects to knit.

And thank YOU Faina and Dawn for sharing your insights and thoughts on your new book. You can also check out Faina’s blog by going to: http://fainasknittingmode.blogspot.com/ and Dawn’s blog by going to: http://www.knittingwithdawn.blogspot.com/.

I certainly wish you both all the best of luck!

World Wide Knit In Public Day!

Tomorrow, June 14th, is World Wide Knit in Public Day (WWKIP). Events are being hosted at locations around the world! It is easy to participate, just take your needles and yarn and head outside. Many shops are hosting special events as well. To find an event near you, check out the official website by clicking here. I hope you will consider heading outdoors tomorrow and joining in the fun! If you do, I would love to hear about the event you attended.

The Knit So Fine Blog Tour!

Carol Sulcoski, Lisa Myers and Laura Grutzeck have recently published a great book called Knit So Fine. The book has plenty of great designs using lightweight yarns, which tend to get a bad reputation from both knitters and crocheters that they are slow to progress in your projects.

Well, Carol has agreed to be my “guest blogger” today and I am happy to have her! The following is a discussion we had about her book and her thoughts behind using “skinny yarns.” So, take it away Carol!!!

First of all, a big thank you to Andrea Lyn for hosting me today, on the very first day of the Knit So Fine Skinny Yarns Blog Tour!

Today we’re going to look at Trekking XXL, a wool/nylon sock yarn that is made in Germany by Zitron (and distributed in the USA by the Skacel company). I’ve always loved Trekking for socks, but after I got a spinning wheel and began to experiment with plying yarns, I came to love Trekking even more. There are particular colorways of Trekking that create wonderful shaded color effects via the plies: each ply changes color in long lengths, at different rates and using different hues. You end up watching colors morph into each other and back again. I’m fascinated by these colorways.

After I started spinning, I came to better understand the color effects when I was plying together yarns that I had spun. I began to wonder what would happen if I knit two strands of Trekking together. I picked about five or six different colorways that all used this shaded effect and started knitting striped swatches with them. It was addictive (much in the way that self-stripers like Noro Kureyon are addictive – you can’t wait to see what color comes next).

Since layering pieces are in fashion, I decided to go with a very simple, classic v-neck vest.

I had so much fun making stripes (you had to change both strands at once at the end of the row, and start the next row with two different strands to get really distinct stripes) that I designed the vest with a striped front. But I also loved the way the yarn looked when you switched one strand randomly. So I designed a back panel that allows the knitter to randomly drop one strand and pick up another for an impressionistic blur of colors.

CS: Andrea Lyn, you did some crocheting with Trekking – what did you think?

ALVB: I have to tell you, I am always a little worried about using skinny yarns for exactly the same reasons as most stitchers, but I think I am becoming a convert! I especially liked Trekking XXL. The feel is incredibly soft and the colors are wonderfully vibrant! I especially liked that is is 75% wool, as I prefer to use natural-occuring fibers.

You told us how the yarn’s color effects inspired the vest in your book. Where else do you get for inspiration for designs from?

CS: All over! For example, my oldest son is ten, and he wears a lot of skateboarder-style shirts, like this one:

I thought how fun it would be to translate that idea – a T-shirt style top with faux layers – into an adult style. And that’s how the Skater T came about!

Sometimes a particular yarn gives me an idea, while other times I just play around with a style I like – like a yoke sweater or a raglan – and try to come up with a little twist to make it seem fresh.

ALVB: How do you/what is your process for selecting the specific yarn for a specific design?

CS: Sometimes the yarn will inspire the design – like the Drapey Silk Vest, which was a way to show off the gorgeous drape of a pure silk yarn. Sometimes I have a design in mind but not a particular yarn, so I look for a yarn that will fit in with my mind’s eye view of the design, paying attention to things like elasticity, warmth or coolness, colors available, gauge and so on. Every once in a while, I start to swatch or knit with a yarn and discover it doesn’t behave the way I need it to, so then I have to find an alternate. There’s a lot of trial and error involved.

ALVB: How long did you work on the project?

CS: We first proposed the book idea in mid-2006, and spent several months working on swatches, sketches and an outline. We began ordering yarn, designing and knitting in the fall of 2006, and that process continued until the summer of 2007. It seemed like so little time! But luckily we finished it up and we were pleasantly surprised when the finished book starting showing up on bookshelves a few weeks earlier than our projected publication date (which was June).

Thanks again, Andrea Lyn, for hosting the first leg of the Knit So Fine Blog Tour!
Tomorrow we’ll be visiting RosieBlogs (http://www.rosieblogs.blogspot.com), the blog of Rosie’s Yarn Cellar (http://www.rosiesyarncellar.com). My co-author Lisa R. Myers – who founded and owns Rosie’s – will be chatting with Courtney Kelley about another delectable fine yarn . . .


It was my pleasure hosting you Carol! You can order Carol’s book from Amazon by clicking on the widget above!

For The Love of Ravelry

If you aren’t familiar with a relatively new online community called Ravelry, I highly recommend you check it out!

Ravelry is a great online location for you to meet other fans of fiber, check out and purchase the latest patterns and join discussion groups about various fiber-related topics. I have been a member for awhile now, but only recently started to delve deeper into all the features Ravelry contains.

I currently belong to 16 groups that cover everything from free form crochet to technical spinning to spool knitting. I have in just the last few days, I started to check out the online repository of patterns.

Site owners Jessica and Casey are doing a great job listening to the current users about suggestions and improvements and the community is growing daily!

In order to control stress on their servers, Jessica and Casey are extending invites in groups. Simply sign up for a user ID and you’ll be connected as soon as they send out your invite. Trust me, it is worth the wait!

If you haven’t checked it out yet, I suggest you log on. If you already have, I would love to hear your thoughts!

You can log on to Ravlery by clicking here.

Why stash?

Recently, an interesting question was posed on a discussion group I belong to. Why stash? As I am sure you all know, the stash is the all important, and ever growing, collection of fiber, yarn, fiber tools and the like. So, why do we stash? Why do we find new and unique ways to sneak yarn and fiber into the house past the husband? (By the way, my personal favorite way to sneak is to buy the yarn, toss the store bag and put it right into my crochet bag like it was always there.)

For me, it is the creative wonder of what that wonderfully-feeling yarn or fiber could become. I love buying one skein at a time and combining it into my freeform projects. If I really love the yarn, of course I have to go back and purchase enough for an entire project! One of my favorite things to do is wander a yarn shop and just feel all the skeins of yarn until I get what my husband refers to as “the oooh factor.” That exact moment that you know you must purchase whatever yarn you are holding.

This is how the stash grows and grows. I even have a trunk my husband bought for me as a coffe table that is now filled with yarn on one side, fiber on the other side and spindles in the middle.

I would love to hear from some of you what your stash means to you and why you stash in the first place.

Stash on!

A New Concept in Yarn

On the Freeform Guild Discussion Group there has been much discussion about a new product by Conjoined Creations called Flat Feet Yarn. It is a flat piece of fabric that appears to be machine-knitted and then hand painted.

On one hand, each piece of fabric is completely unique. On the other hand, I don’t know how I feel about having to pull apart a pre-assembled piece of fabric to re-crochet into a new project.

It is also a bit pricey at $25 per “flat,” which will make one pair of socks. The content breakdown is 80% Superwash Merino/20% Nylon. I have been unable to locate a total yardage or weight.

I am hoping to find a LYS that carries Flat Feet so I can see it in person before making a purchase. According to what I have read online, it is flying off the shelves. Not sure if it is because its the “newest thing,” that the colors are dyed by hand which makes it unique, or something else.

I would love to have comments from knitters or crocheters have tried it. Share your experiences!

Doing for Others

I have always taken great pleasure in making crochet items for others. I feel it is a great way to show someone you took the time to make something especially for them and put real care into it. There is no greater way to show appreciation or caring then to give something created by you.

A great way to do this is through the prayer shawl ministry. The idea is to knit or crochet a shawl and to pray, think positive thoughts or good wishes while creating the garment. You may also want to play soft music while working your project. The receiver can then “wrap themselves in a prayer” whenever they wear it. Many churches and civic organizations make them for people going through chemo, after the loss of a loved one or any difficulty they may be experiencing as a way to help them through. The stitch pattern should be simple enough that you can continue to think positively or pray while working the shawl.

I think this is a great way to show someone you took the time to take your stitching ability and create something just for them. I encourage everyone to make at least one prayer shawl to give to someone who needs it. There are many sites that can help you find more information about the prayer shawl ministry, as well as a book by Lion Brand: The Prayer Shawl Ministry; Reaching Those in Need. I have listed the sites below and hope you will consider taking on this important project.

Prayer Shawl Sites
http://www.shawlministry.com/
http://www.lionbrand.com/patterns/khs-prayerShawl.html
http://www.waitingroomministry.com
http://www.maggiescrochet.com/pages/Crochet_Help/Prayer_Shawl_main.pdf

Learning New Skills

OK, I’ll admit it. I’m very late to the You Tube party. I checked it out the other day, not sure what I would find. I did a search for crochet and found tons of wonderful instructional videos! For example, Jennifer Hansen, The Stitch Diva herself, has several great videos available that demonstrate skills like knitting in the round, broomstrick lace and more! It is simple and free to set up an account and you can search for all types of great videos. You can pause and back up videos as needed and can save them in your playlist. I’m sorry that I waited to long to check it out! There are some great instructional videos uploaded and I recommend it to anyone!

A Different Kind of “Fiber Arts”

Recently in a town in Ohio, a group of knitters created a unique outdoor art project by knitting a “sweater” on a pear tree. Clinging to its pockets are family photos, poems and other small items, adding to the tree’s charm.

This project is not only bringing smiles to the locals, but it is bringing knitting and fiber arts to the masses. Like knitting, crocheting or spinning in public, it peaks people’s curiosity. What do I recommend? Bring your fiber arts outside as the weather warms and spring lets us spend more time out of the house. Grab a cup of coffee or tea at your local coffee shop and sit and work on your projects. A week or two ago a friend from work and I went to Starbucks at lunch. I worked on a baby gift for a friend and she worked on a blanket for her youngest son. Several times people came up to us to ask what we were doing and how their grandmother (aunt, other member of their family) used to knit or crochet and brought up good memories from their childhood. Instead of complaining about the interruption, I would talk about your project excitedly and encourage them to take up the craft!

To read more about the Ohio yarn tree, click here. It is a great story!