Just in time for the holidays I stumbled upon the ultimate gift for a knitter — knitted jewelry by Spiritus Designs.

Artist Susan Baile, who lives right here in my hometown of Boulder, Colorado, creates one-of-a-kind knitted wire designs accented by semi-precious gemstones, fused silver, and mixed metals. She uses standard knitting needles to form multiple strands of metal wire into an assortment of necklaces, collars, cuffs, and earrings. The pieces are astonishingly lightweight and comfortable to wear.

I couldn’t resist a simple but stunning piece for myself. Upon seeing it, my dear husband remarked, “That’s beautiful! Take it off and let me give it to you for Christmas!” I gave him her card with a link to her website.

 

 

I don’t know about you, but I always feel as though I’ve been given a gift each fall when Daylight Savings Time ends. I love the concept of “falling back” an hour.  I only wish it didn’t necessitate “springing forward” each spring — it takes me a week to recover from the lost hour. But I digress.

This year I decided to take advantage of the hour gained by going off Daylight Savings Time last Sunday by starting a new project. I cast on stitches for (yet) another pair of socks at the top of the hour and marked my progress at the end of that hour. The geek in me decided to count the stitches –2,448 stitches in 60 minutes!

Not bad for a free hour’s work!

The yarn is Jorstad Creek Tweed Sock (100% BFL wool; 435 yards [397 meters]/100 grams) in the Chartreuse colorway. I’m using my go-to rib of k3, p1, and working the upper leg on size US 1.5 (2.50 mm) Signature double-pointed needles; I’ll work the lower leg, heel, foot, and toe on size US 1 (2.5 mm) needles. Working the upper leg on one size larger needles is a trick I learned long ago from the venerable Priscilla Gibson-Roberts. It gives just enough flare in the upper leg to accommodate the calf muscle. Brilliant!

How did you use your free hour?

 

For the past several years I’ve ordered fruit to support the marching band of one of my local high schools. I was never in band myself–in fact, I can’t play a single instrument or read music. However, it’s a good cause I love having organic fruit delivered to my house.

I’m in need of a little help this year, though. With all the time I spend on the road, I’m unable to keep up the most excellent apples I ordered.

Can you help me come up with ideas? I’ve put them in smoothies, baked them in a pie and apple crisp (there goes the diet!), put them in my husband’s lunchbox, and tried to eat one every day. Still, the box remains full of apples.

Do you have good apple recipes that you’re willing to share?

 

 

 

Drum roll please…
Enrollment for Knit Stars 3.0 is open through midnight (Pacific Time) on November 1. Check out the details at https://knitstars.mykajabi.com/a/4441/qzGWw9gQ.  The price is $199 and if you enroll now, you’ll have a chance to purchase the exclusive Knit Stars yarns when they go on sale on November 4.
During this time frame (today through November 1), Knit Stars 1.0 and 2.0 will also be available for purchase. The price is $199/each for Knit Stars 1.0 and 2.0, which can be paid in two installments.
But that’s not all. During this enrollment window you can take advantage of two additional opportunities:
1. On Tuesday, October 30 at 7pm Central Time, you can watch a live “show-and-tell” on the Knit Stars public Facebook page, with past students sharing their Knit Stars experience and the beautiful projects they’ve made since.
2. On Wednesday, October 31 at 7pm Central Time, Knit Stars creator Shelley Brander will host a live Q&A on the public Knit Stars Facebook page, during which she’ll answer any questions folks have about enrolling in Knit Stars.
Knit Stars 3.0 officially starts on November 26, with a new lesson released every other day over the course of three weeks. Those who enroll will be invited to live Q&A sessions with the Stars on Sunday, December 16 and Thursday, December 20th.
Again, visit https://knitstars.mykajabi.com/a/4441/qzGWw9gQ to learn more and enroll for 10 lessons in each Knit Stars program.

For each of my Knit For Fun Retreats I design a cowl and give the pattern along with specially-dyed yarn to each attendee. For my recent retreat in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, I designed Crimson Leaves Cowl, which I’ve now uploaded on Ravelry. 

This lacy cowl pays homage to the stunning autumn colors of turning leaves. The luxurious yarn is MCN Fingering (80% merino, 10% cashmere, 10% nylon) dyed by Wisconsin’s own Sun Valley Fibers.

The simple lace pattern resembles panels of paired leaves. It repeats over 18 stitches and 4 rounds, and it easy to follow once the panels are established. Unlike most lace patterns, this one includes increases and decreases every round–there are no “rest” rounds.

A tidy row of eyelets borders the scalloped cast-on and bind-off edges. I used the Old Norwegian (also called Twisted German) cast-on and the Sewn bind-off for matching top and bottom edges, but you can use the methods of your choice.

Between now and midnight October 26, you can get 20% off the price of this pattern by using the code RED LEAVES when checking out on Ravelry.

 

When I was Montreal recently, I visited Robyn Grauer of Les Lainages du Petit Mouton, a wool shop in the Western Island town of Pointe-Claire. I couldn’t help but notice a large box filled with dozens of handknitted dolls. It turns out that Robyn is a local collection site for dolls knitted or crocheted Health Partners International of Canada (HPIC), who use the small wool toys to help secure the packaging in boxes of medical supplies shipped overseas. Much more useful than styrofoam packaging, doctors and health-care professionals then hand out the dolls to their youngest patients.

Called Izzy Dolls, the dolls are named after Mark Isfeld, a Canadian soldier who, in the 1990s, handed out similar dolls knitted by his mother to children he met while serving overseas as a Canadian peacekeeper. Although Master Corporal Isfeld was tragically killed by a land mine explosion in 1994 while serving in Croatia, his mother continued to make the dolls, which she named for her son. Hundreds of knitters have joined the project. HPIC estimates that it hands out about 12,000 dolls a year and has handed out a total of more than 100,000 dolls in more than 100 countries.

Robin Grauer holds weekly meetings in her shop where interested knitters gather to turn leftover sportweight, DK-weight, or worsted-weight wool into “comfort” dolls. The dolls feature a variety of hair and skin colors as well as colorful “clothing.”

Knitting and crochet instructions are available at the Izzy Dolls website. Dolls can be dropped off at Les Lainages du Petit Mouton at 295 Boul Saint-Jean, Point-Claire QC H9R 3J1, Canada, or sent to: Izzy Dolls at 2907 Portland Drive, Oakville, Ontario L6H 5S4, Canada.

Finally, I’m happy that I saved all those bits of leftover yarn!

A couple of weeks ago I held my Knit For Fun Retreat in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. Located along the west side of Door Peninsula, Sturgeon Bay features stunning views of rolling hills covered with farms and woods, and lots and lots of fresh Lake Michigan water.

The retreat started off with a welcome dinner Thursday night and ended with a farewell breakfast Sunday morning. In between, attendees had classes from world-class teachers Laura Nelkin, Olga Buraya Kefelian, and Susan B. Anderson. They also got a chance to spend 20 minutes with me as the Knit Doctor.

Highlights included fun with new and old friends, a jam-packed swag bag, a top-quality market place, a ride on a fire boat (and a chance to use a fire hose), and beautiful sunsets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the end of the retreat we announced the teachers and location of the fall Knit For Fun Retreat, 2019: Nancy Bush, Andrea Rangel, and Veera Valimaki, at the four-star Estancia La Jolla Hotel and Spa.

Registration will open in January.

 

A lot of you responded to the Knitting Ganseys raffle and I’m sorry that I only have one copy to give away.

The random-number generator chose Cheryl, who wrote: “I’d be tickled to win this book. I met Beth years ago, before I understood who she was. Now that I know of her talents, it would be a treat to explore her new edition and knit one of her designs!”

Congratulations Cheryl! I’ll contact you directly to get your mailing address and I’ll get the book in the mail (honest).

For those of you who didn’t win, Beth will happily sign any copy purchased through her website at KnittingTraditions.

When Beth Brown-Reinsel wrote the first edition of Knitting Ganseys twenty-five years ago, I was on the editorial staff at Interweave Press. Hers was the first book manuscript I had the pleasure of reading. I was so taken with the traditional designs that I quickly used her clear instructions and design guidelines to design a gansey for my one-year-old son. Fast-forward twenty-five years and Beth and I have become good friends and that son is now living on his own.

I can’t emphasize how delighted I was to learn that Beth was working on a revised and updated edition of that book, titled Knitting Ganseys: Techniques and Patterns for Traditional Sweaters (published by Interweave Press; ISBN: 978-1-63250-616-0; $29.95).

I received a review copy in the mail and I’m pleased to say that I’m not disappointed. The new hardcover edition is bigger and brighter—color photos replace all but the historic black-and-white images in the original.

Like the original, the updated edition includes detailed step-by-step instructions for knitting a miniature sweater that incorporates all of the components of a traditional gansey, along with guidelines for expanding the instructions for full-size garments. The book also includes blank schematics and worksheets along with detailed information on sizing. Beth makes it surprisingly easy to take inspiration from the multitude of charted stitch patterns and design variations to create your own version of this old-world classic.

If you’re not up to designing your own, choose one of the nine projects included in the revised edition. You may recognize variations of four of the six designs in the original book, two of which feature expanded sizes. However, this edition also includes five completely new designs. From simple to intricate, clear step-by-step instructions ensure success from cast-on to finishing.

Even if, like me, you have the original edition of Knitting Ganseys, you’ll welcome the fresh layout, clear photos, worksheets, sizing information, and design inspiration in the revised and updated edition.

Generous as ever, Beth sent me a copy of Knitting Ganseys: Techniques and Patterns for Traditional Sweaters to raffle off on my blog. Respond to this post by telling me that you’d like to knit a gansey and I’ll enter your name in a drawing for the free copy. I’ll announce a winner Monday, October 1.

You can get an autographed copy if you order directly from Beth’s website at https://knittingtraditions.com/product/the-new-knitting-ganseys-2/

When you receive this post I’ll be traveling the highways with my event coordinator, Cindy. We’ll head east from Colorado to Wisconsin, where I teach for a couple of days at the Milwaukee Knitter’s Guild (you can find them on Facebook at Greater Milwaukee Knitting Guild). This road trip will be in part a revisit of my childhood when my parents would pack all four of us kids and the family dog in the station wagon to visit our grandparents in Madison. The most memorable trips were the time we were stuck in Nebraska waiting out a tornado while listening to the weather report on a transistor radio, and the time the family dog got into some garbage at a rest stop and some miles later had uncontrollable diarrhea. I was sitting in the back of the car with the suitcases and the miserable dog. I don’t remember much beyond screaming at my father to stop the car and let me out. My fingers are crossed for clear weather and good health.

After teaching in Milwaukee, we’ll head to beautiful Door County for the sold-out Knit For Fun Retreat in Sturgeon Bay. Years ago my parents took a bicycle tour of Door County and raved about the beautiful scenery. These were people who routinely biked in Germany and Switzerland and were no strangers to breathtaking scenery. Their enthusiasm prompted me to schedule a retreat in the area. The timing should be right for crisp air, blue skies, and fall colors.

I’ll write a recap of the fun when I return. In the meantime, you can read about Knit For Fun Retreats on my website. I invite you to join the future fun!