This summer I had the opportunity to visit Kraemer Yarns mill in the small town of Nazareth, Pennsylvania.  There, they accept bales of fleece, card it into roving, and spin it onto huge cones of beautiful yarn. After experiencing the heat and high noise levels first hand, I have enormous respect for mill workers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The yarn that’s sold in the on-site store is only a fraction of what Kraemer Textiles produces. The bulk of their business is custom spinning yarn for industry, including apparel, carpet, home furnishings, industrial, and craft. Perhaps the most notable of these is the yarn they produced for the unforgettable hats and sweaters that Ralph Lauren designed for the athletes in the 2014 Winter Olympics!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last spring when I taught at Bazaar Girls Yarn Shop and Fiber Emporium in Port Townsend, Washington, I picked up some handpainted unbrushed mohair by Colinton Australia.The yarn is 80% fine mohair and 20% silk. Each 50-gram skein has 250 yards (229 meters). Although it feels a bit rough in the skein, it blooms beautifully when washed.

I love the Bazaar Girls and all they do to support their town and community. I therefore figured that least I could do is design a sweater to help them sell the yarn. Apparently, they are the only shop that sells this fabulous yarn in the United States and there aren’t many patterns that specify it.

I’ve knitted a couple of swatches and have decided that I like the one that gets 5.5 stitches/inch best. I’m now going to refer to The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters for the template for a top-down set-in sleeve cardigan. At this point I thinking something light and airy.

If all goes well, I’ll have the completed sweater and pattern available for sale when I return to Port Townsend next March!

It seems as though it’s been a particularly hot summer this year. However, I got a 12-day break when my husband and I visited friends and family on the Olympic Penninsula of Washington state. I’m not one to take a lot of photos (I don’t like experiencing a vacation through the lens of a camera), but I did manage to get a few representative shots.

We spent a week in rental house on a hill outside of Sequim. The view from the front porch was spectacular when we arrived. Unfortunately, the clouds settled in and many of our subsequent “views” were revealed only on posted signs throughout Olympic National Park.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We spent several days exploring the Hoh Rain Forest where the trees loomed large and moss covered most every surface. With all the vegetation and low clouds, it was serenely peaceful and surreal. I highly recommend hiking a rainforest during a gentle rain. But keep your eyes open and be on the lookout for bears. We spotted a mother and cub just yards off the trail!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like a lot of the northern hemisphere, we’ve had our share of hot weather this summer.

With temps holding well above 90 F (33 C) into the evenings, it’s been hard for me to accomplish much of anything. My forearm sticks to my desk when I use my computer mouse, and more importantly, yarn doesn’t flow between my sweaty fingers when I knit. We don’t have air conditioning and the multiple fans running throughout the house don’t seem to help much.

Please share any tips you have for dealing with the heat!

In celebration of my niece’s baby (the first grandchild on my side of the family), I designed what I believe is my first knitted baby blanket. I named it Walker Baby Blanket, in honor of my side of the family. My hope is that this soft and squishy blanket will keep her little nugget warm and cozy in a stroller, car seat, or crib.

The blanket begins with a circular cast-on in the center, and then progresses outward in four sections of ever-widening stripes of moss stitch bounded by eyelet increases. It’s edged with garter-stitch stripes and finished with a decorative Channel Island bind-off.

 

This practical blanket is knitted out of machine-washable Knit One Crochet Too DungarEASE (60% cotton, 40% acrylic; 250 yards [228 meters]/100 grams) in Sand (gray), Chambray (blue), Cactus (green), and Buttercup (yellow) on size 8 (5 mm) needles for a gauge of 18 stitches per 4″ (10 cm).

To encourage the new parents to use the blanket, I added a fun “wear it out” tag that I purchased from Four Purls knit shop in Winter Haven, Florida, last fall.

Use the code BABY to get 20% off the purchase price of this pattern on Ravelry between now and midnight on Friday, July 26.

As many of you know, I’m somewhat obsessed with knitted skirts. There are currently 11 of them hanging in my closet, knitted from fingering, sport, DK, and worsted yarns. So far, I’ve uploaded patterns for six designs (Lacy Pleats, Putting On The Pleats, Putting On The Worsted Pleats, Take-Two Skirt, Tavia, Traveling Pleats, and Velvety Pleats) on Ravelry. There seems to be no end to the stitch patterns and yarns I want to try, which brings me to the topic of this post.

When I was teaching at a retreat hosted by The Bazaar Girls yarn shop in Port Townsend, Washington, this past March, I purchased a gradient kit from Schmutzerella Yarns. Talented owner and dyer Nancy Torrence has managed to dye gradients that circumvent the entire color wheel. A bit of a self-proclaimed geek, Nancy also has colors and gradients based on characters in Harry Potter and the board game Clue.

I was so enamored with the Sweet (fingering weight; 75% superwash merino, 25% nylon) gradient kit named Professor Plum’s Demise (six 20-gram/92-yard mini skeins that shift from purple to black) that I decided to knit yet another skirt, based on my basic Putting On The Pleats pattern (but I made the waistband only 1 1/2″ wide instead of 2″ as stated in the pattern). I used size U.S. 2 needles for a gauge of about 7.5 stitches/inch.

 

To ensure that I’d have enough yarn, I purchased two packs of the gradients (184 yards total of each shade) plus a 100-gram skein of basic black (colorway Nox) for the waistband and upper portion of the skirt.

Somewhere before the beginning of the pleats, when I had at least 7 grams of Nox remaining, I switched to the mini skeins, beginning with the darkest shade and grading to the pure purple. To soften the color transitions, I alternated one round each of the darkest mini skein with Nox until I had used up about one-third (about 60 yards/12 grams) of the darkest mini-skein color. Then I worked the mini skein alone for another one-third of the yardage (12 grams), then alternated one round each of that color with the next darkest shade until I finished the first mini-skein color. I continued in this manner, alternating one-third (about 12 grams) with the previous color, one-third (about 12 grams) alone, then one-third (about 12 grams) with the next color, ending with pure purple.

The result is a beautiful skirt with a subtle gradation from darkest at the waist to lightest at the hem. To ensure that the “pleats” stretched out fully, I used blocking wires to stretch the width aggressively when I wet-blocked the finished skirt.

If you’d like to knit a skirt for yourself, use the code SKIRT! to get 20% off the Ravelry price of Lacy Pleats, Putting On The Pleats, Putting On The Worsted Pleats, Take-Two Skirt, Traveling Pleats, and Velvety Pleats between now and midnight Friday July 12.

If you haven’t done so already, I urge you to listen to Fiber Nation, an in-depth podcast that goes beyond knitting. Sponsored by Interweave and hosted by my personal friend Allison Korleski, this professionally produced podcast is different from any other I’ve listened to. The podcast uses a storytelling format rather than a straight-up interview, and each episode is an intriguing visit with someone who is doing interesting and inspiring things in the fiber universe.

So far, there have been three roughly half-hour episodes. Here’s a recap:

Not What I Expected (March 20, 2019) 

From the khamak embroidery of Afghanistan to Mayan rug hookers in Guatemala, learn how women are changing their lives with creativity, courage, and old t-shirts. Publisher Linda Ligon (she was the founder of Interweave Press) takes us around the world with Thrums Books, and reflects on how the best intentions can sometimes backfire.

I first met Linda in 1989 when I took a job as an editorial assistant for Handwoven Magazine. She is one of the most amazing women I know and I credit her with launching my career as an editor, and later knitwear designer.

Country Life (April 12, 2019)

Say you start knitting, and get into yarn. Maybe you start spinning, and get obsessed with fiber. This is how an obsession with sheep might begin. Spin Off magazine editor Kate Larson just happens to have her own flock of sheep. In this episode, Kate walks us through animal husbandry, harvesting fiber, and the hard choices that sometimes come with ranching.

I’ve met Kate while on the teaching circuit. Sadly, I’ve never taken a class from this most engaging woman, but I’ve heard lots of good things and am even more impressed after listening to this podcast.

From Russia With Love (May 22, 2019)

Hand-drawn knitting charts are not normally the target of armed robbery. When you are starting a business in 1990’s Russia, however, anything goes. In this episode, you’ll meet Galina Khmeleva and hear a dual story: one about a 300-year-old knitting tradition, and another about the remarkable woman who helped preserve it.

I met Galina when she was working on her Gossamer Webs book back in the 1990s. I’ve spend many a delightful evening with her at various knitting events–that woman can tell a story! I also had the good fortune of having her teach for my 2016 Knit For Fun Retreat in Estes Park, Colorado.

I hope these words have piqued your interest. Go to Fiber Nation to listen to these and hopefully many, many more podcasts. Better yet, click here to subscribe to Fiber Nation on iTunes (click on “Listen on Apple Podcasts”, then click on “Subscribe” at the left of the page, under the Fiber Nation logo.

I’ve added a new cowl pattern on Ravelry.

Designed for my Spring 2019 Knit For Fun Retreat in Freeport, Maine, this lacy cowl is named for the cuspate deposits of beach material created by wave action along shorelines. The rolled cast-on and bind-off edges and scallops in the modified Old Shale stitch pattern mimic rippling waves, the eyelets are reminiscent of sea foam, and the garter ridges represent undulating deposits of seaweed, shells, and sea glass.

The yarn is a luxurious blend of merino, cashmere, and nylon in a specially dyed Sea Glass colorway by Maine’s own Seven Sisters Arts.

Worked in the round, the pattern repeats over 18 stitches and 10 rounds.

Use the code BEACH to receive 20% off the purchase price of Beach Cusps Cowl on Ravelry between now and midnight Saturday, June 29.

There are spaces available in most classes at my Knit For Fun Retreat in La Jolla, California, September 19 – 22. This is good news for those of you who would like to participate in the retreat but prefer to sleep in your own beds!

We’re offering a commuter rate that includes everything but a room at the Estancia La Jolla Hotel and Spa. You’ll get one class with each of the three teachers–Nancy Bush (from the U.S.), Andrea Rangel (from Canada), and Veera Valimaki (from Finland) .

You’ll also get all your meals, an impressive swag bag, the opportunity to sign up for one-on-one sessions with the Knit Doctor (that’s me) and the Style Doctor (Jeane deCoster), evening entertainment, and loads of fun with other knitters.

Of course, you can still opt to sign up to lodge at the beautiful Estancia La Jolla Hotel and Spa, as well.

Nancy BushNancy Bush is an expert in both sock knitting and Estonian knitting techniques. She has authored five books, including Folk SocksFolk Knitting in Estonia, and Knitted Lace of Estonia, as well as many articles on traditional knitting. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, is the owner of Wooly West online shop, leads knitting tours of Estonia, and teaches workshops throughout the United States and abroad.

Nancy’s classes include Estonian Cast-Ons, Roositud (an Estonian inlay color technique, and Knitting an Estonian Lace Shawl.

Andrea Rangel

Andrea Rangel is an experienced knitter, designer, and educator (she’s taught elementary, middle and high school) from Victoria, British Columbia. She’s the author of AlterKnit Stitch Dictionary and Rugged Knits, and her designs have been published in Brooklyn Tweed Wool PeopleTwist Collective, Interweave Knits, and Knit Scene, as well as independently. Andrea’s classes are clear and organized, with a strong focus on how students learn. Visit Andrea Rangel’s website for original patterns.

Andrea’s classes include The Fine Art of Yarn Substitution, The Basics of Stranded Colorwork, and Increasing and Decreasing Master Class.

Veera Välimäki lives and designs in a small village in Southern Finland. Her designs focus on simple and clean lines with small fresh details. She loves simple yet modern knits that are both easy to knit and easy to wear—year after year. Veera has two books published in Finland, along with five (5) volumes of Interpretations, co-authored with Joji Locatelli. Her work has been featured in magazines and books in Finland, Europe, and the U.S. Follow Veera on her blog, 100% Rain.

Veera will teach Colorplay, Stripes–Beyond the Basics, and Round-Yoke Sweaters.

For an additional fee, you can sign up of one of the full-day extension classes Thursday, September 19: Muhu Knitting Traditions with Nancy Bush, Brioche and Beyond with Andrea Rangel, or Shawl Shapes with Veera Valimaki. I’m also offering a full-day class called A Skirt For All Seasons in which you’ll walk away with custom instructions for my “pleated” skirt pattern.

Click here for details and to register today!

 

 

As you read this I’ll be heading to the East Coast for a few days of teaching. One of my stops will be The Knitted Purl in Oyster Bay, NY (that’s on the north shore of Long Island). I’m scheduled to teach June 18 and 19.

One class is Top-Down Sweaters with Circular Yokes (based on The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters) in which students knit a miniature sweater to learn all the techniques in a single day-long class.

By the end of the day, students will have practiced all of the techniques necessary for a top-down circular-yoke style pullover, and will understand how to use the charted instructions in book.

 

The other class I’ll teach is A Skirt For All Seasons in which I take body measurement and combine them with individual gauges to generate a custom “pleated” skirt pattern for each student. I’m absolutely in love with my basic skirt pattern and have several variations for sale in my Ravelry store. Because the design is based on a classic tailored pleated skirt, it looks great on all body types–short, tall, wide, or thin–especially when designed for individual shapes. My knitted version is as comfortable as sweat pants but look a whole lot better! I joke that I plan to take over the knitting world one skirt at a time. Care to join me?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As of my writing this, there are still spots available in both classes. Call the Knitted Purl at (516) 558-7800 if you’d like to register for one of these classes.