I’m very excited to announce that I get to be a Knit Star this year! Knit Stars is an online workshop that’s available around the world to anyone who has internet access. You’ll get access to my lesson on finishing steeks with zippers or buttonbands and well as lessons from 11 other teachers. This will be the biggest online yarn party ever!

You can find all of the details by clicking here.

Join now to take advantage of the earlybird rate of just $179. That’s less than $15 per class!

My fellow teachers are:

Andrea Rangel
Ann Shayne & Kay Gardiner / Mason Dixon Knitting
Arne & Carlos
Carson Demers, Ergo I Knit
Cecelia Campochiaro
Christel Seyfarth, Art Knits
Lorilee Beltman
Mary Jane Mucklestone
Veera Välimäki
I hope to “see” you there!

Last week I returned from a three-week trip to Scotland. For two of those three weeks I was on the inaugural  Lambs On The Run excursion, sponsored by Colorado yarn shops  LambShoppe and Longmont Yarn Shoppe. The other week I explored Edinburgh with my event coordinator Cindy Hallam.

The Lambs On The Run trip began with three days at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival, followed by a spectacular bus tour of the country.

In addition to the Edinburgh Yarn Festival, trip highlights included:

  • A couple of days to explore Edinburgh and the Royal Mile (I did my best to stimulate the local economy!)
  • A tour of Roslin Chapel (featured in Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code)
  • High tea at the historic Balmoral Hotel
  • A tour of Stirling Castle (aka, Castle Leoc of the Outlander book and movie fame)
  • A visit (and tasting) with world-renowned chocolatier Iain Burnett (his truffles have won best in the world)
  • A couple distillery tours (I do love a good whiskey!)
  • Colloden House (where Bonnie Prince Charlie waited in vain to be recognized as King of Scotland)
  • The Colloden Battle Field (the battle ended the Highland way of life)
  • Clava Cairns (“magical” stones, such as those featured in the Outlander books and movies)
  • A drive around the breathtakingly beautiful Isle of Skye
  • A sheep dog demonstration by Neil, one of the few shepherds left
  • A sheep shearing demonstration, also by Neil
  • The historic New Lanark Mill, which is still in operation
  • A whole lot of Scotish foods and brews
  • Visits to a number of yarn shops featuring yarns that aren’t easily available in the U.S.

I’ve included a collage of photos below, in no particular order. If it looks mostly cold and damp, it was. But when the sun came out, did it ever shine!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next spring Lambs On The Run will            tour Italy. Florence, here I come!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The nice thing about plane travel is it gives me lots of time to knit, which means that I’m flying along on my Big Old Coat, designed by Joji Locatelli.

I started to get nervous that there may be a chance that I’d run out of yarn if I waited to knit the sleeves until after the entire body was done. I put the body stitches on a holder so I could make sure the sleeves are the proper length. Once they’re done, I can simply work the body as long as I have yarn.

As for the body, I’m alternating two balls of yarn to mitigate any color irregularities between skeins. Don’t be alarmed by the narrow looking sleeve. It will stretch out nicely when I block the sweater.

The only adjustment I made to the sleeve is to use a tubular bind-off for a more invisible ending than the simple knitwise bind-off Joji specifies in the pattern. If you’re unfamiliar with the tubular bind-off  check out this YouTube video.

 

As I knit my way through Nicola Susen’s Square Sock pattern from New Directions in Sock Knitting, I’m struck with her ability to create a sock shape out of simple squares.

The sock begins with a square to form the ball of the foot. Two quarters of that square are put on a waste-yarn holder while the other two quarters are decreased to form closure at the top of the toe. The decreases are worked in four sections to end with just 2 stitches in each section. These remaining 8 stitches are gathered with yarn threaded on a tapestry needle.

At this point, the sock shape isn’t readily apparent.

 

The two sections of held stitches are then returned to the needles and worked in a bias tube with decreases worked along the top of the foot and increases worked along the bottom of the foot.

When knitting socks, I typically work with four double-pointed needles–three to hold the stitches and one to knit with. Hovever, the “square” format of this sock construction makes it easier for me to hold the stitches on four needles (one needle per section) and knit with a fifth.

So far, the sock has an odd shape. The cast-on “point” at the ball of the foot looks suspiciously like a heel. I think blocking is going to be a key step in this pattern.

 

I’m pleased to say that I’m making progress on my version of Joji Locatelli’s Big Old Coat.

After working the back downward from the back collar, I picked up stitches for the fronts along the shoulder cast-on edges and worked them downward as well, including the ribbed collar as I went. Both the back and fronts ended with a little armhole shaping for a better fit.

I’ve now joined the back and fronts and am working my way to the hem. I’ve placed markers to alert me when the pattern changes from the body to the collar and to identify the side “seam” stitches.

Because the Sweet Fiber yarn I’m using is hand dyed, I’m alternating between two balls every two rows. I’m changing at the left side “seam” so that the ball changes don’t interfere with the center front edge.

The only adjustment I’ve made to the pattern is to work the side “seam” stitches in reverse stockinette stitch (appear as purls on the right side) instead of the slipped knit stitch specified in the pattern.

As many of you know, I inherited my parents’ cat Lily last spring. Lily is a warm affectionate soul that loves company. The problem has been that she won’t let me clip her claws, which has wrecked havoc on my furniture and skin. I posted about the problem a few months ago.

 

I’ve taken everyone’s suggestions to heart and have been giving her lots of love, petting and brushing her every day, and giving her catnip several times a week. I put double-stick tape on the arms of the furniture and bought different types of clippers for her nails.

‘m now delighted to report that while she slept next to me the other night, I was able to gently lift a paw and clip a nail. She didn’t flinch. I clipped another. Still, she remained calm. I clipped all the claws on one foot, then the other! Then I clipped every claw on each of her back paws. She was awake but at peace and didn’t put up any kind of fight. I even went back and snipped a little more off one of her front paws before she quietly rolled over.

Thank you all for your excellent suggestions and encouragement.

She still loves me and stays close in her bed under my desk.

Look what arrived in my mailbox! My Craftsy class titled Knit Like A Master is now available as a DVD so you can watch it even when you don’t have internet access.

This, my third Craftsy class, includes everything I think every knitter should know that will fit into the three-hour video workshop format. From knitting and measuring a proper gauge swatch to seaming and weaving in ends, this class shows ways to master your knitting. Tips and tricks along the way will help you bring your knitting to a professional level, whether you’re a beginner or have been knitting for years.

FYI, my first Craftsy class, Save Our Stitches: Fixing Knitting Mistakes, is available on DVD as well. I hope it’s only a matter of time before my second class, Essential Skills for Sock Knitting, makes it’s way to DVD format.

I love the Craftsy platform and think you will, too!

The next pair of socks I plan to knit from New Directions in Sock Knitting is Nicola Susen‘s Square Socks (page 134).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This sock construction relies on a clever formula for squaring the circle: you knit two squares and two tubes in seamless succession. It begins with a circular cast-on centered under the ball of the foot. These stitches are divided into four groups that are worked outward in rounds as increases are worked on both sides of each group to form the foot square, which determines the fit.

When the diagonal of the foot square is the same as the foot circumference, the live stitches from two adjacent sides of the square are worked in a diamond shape to form the top of the toe. The stitches from the remaining two sides of the foot square are worked even in bias stockinette until the foot reaches the desired length, then the stitches are worked upward in a bias rib pattern for the leg.

Nicola used two colors of fingering weight merino for her socks, reversing the placement of the colors on the two socks.

For my version, I’ve chosen Dream in Color Everlasting, an 8-ply sock yarn composed of 100% superwash Australian merino (420 yards/100 grams) in a single colorway called Rosy 734.

I’m using U.S. size 1.5 (2.5 mm) double-point needles to get the specified gauge of 18 stitches to 2″, or 9 stitches per inch. I plan to follow the instructions for the larger size, which has a foot circumference of 8 1/2″  (21.5 cm) to fit my largish feet.

 

The first few rounds are tricky, but the knitting gets easier as more stitches are formed on each needle and the size of the square increases. So far, I’ve increased to 39 stitches in each of the four sections for a total of 156 stitches, which is the stopping point for the smaller size. Although this is not progressing in a recognizable sock form, the knitting is engaging and I’m enjoying the symmetry of the paired lifted increases.

I also LOVE this yarn!

When I was in Canada last fall, I had the good fortune to spend a few hours at Knit City, western Canada’s biggest textile, yarn, and fiber event. The marketplace was packed with Canadian vendors selling the most beautiful yarns.

Although it wasn’t my intention, I was seduced by Sweet Fiber hand-dyed Merino Twist Worsted and bought a sweater’s quantity in the awesome colorway called Woodsmoke. I don’t normally purchase this much yarn without clear intentions of what to do with it. I told myself that I would design something fabulous with it.

However, when I saw that a couple of friends in my Sunday knitting group were knitting Joji Locatelli’s Big Old Coat, I decided it was better than anything I could design on my own.

Because I don’t want an oversized sweater, I’m following the directions for the smallest size. I never would have thought it possible without trying on my friends’ coats in progress!

I have to admit that it’s pure delight to follow instructions without having to do any math or planning on my own! This design begins with the back collar, then the upper body (including the shawl collar) is worked from the top down to the base of the armholes. The back and front are joined at the armholes and worked in a single piece to the hem. Stitches for the sleeves are picked up around the armholes, then worked in rounds to the cuffs. Other than weaving in ends and blocking, there’s no additional finishing!

 

I knitted a generous gauge swatch in the interesting texture pattern and managed to get the correct gauge on the first try. So far, I’ve completed the two sections of the k2, p2 ribbed back collar and have picked up stitches for the back.

You can’t see it in this photo, but the yarn forms a satisfying squishy fabric that’s going to feel like a comfy hug around my neck and shoulders!

Last weekend found me in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at the first-ever Loops Retreat. Loops owner Shelley Brander (far left in the teacher photo below) is a genius at creating community among knitters (and everyone else, I suspect). The teachers were Romi Hill, who taught lace techniques and surgery, Andrea Mowry, who taught brioche and shawls, and Carson Demers, who taught knitting ergonomics. I filled in as the Knit Doctor. As much as I enjoy teaching, I thoroughly enjoyed spending one-on-one time with the attendees!

To ensure that everyone was comfortable, at ease, and fully taken care of, Shelley hired my Knit For Fun Retreats event coordinator Cindy Hallam to manage the weekend. It worked because I only saw smiles from registration on Thursday to the closing brunch on Sunday.

The retreat was held within walking distance of the Loops store, which is a mecca of fine yarns. If you’re in the Tulsa area, it’s worth a trip. If not, you can shop online by clicking on the link above.

A highlight of the event was the special yarn brought in just for the weekend. Dye For Knitting even dyed a special colorway for each of the teachers! “My” colorway, shown at right is called Loops Loves Ann. Wow! I want to design something special with it!

I say it often and it’s worth saying again–knitting retreats are the best way to meet up with other knitters and learn new things!