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.

My dear husband complains that I’m on the road more than I’m at home and I can’t argue. Since March 11, I’ve been to Washington, all around Italy, Maine, Texas, Pennsylvania, and New York. Out of 111 days, I’ll be gone 67. In other words, I’m away 2.5 days for every day I spend at home. I guess my husband has cause to feel a bit lonely.

I, on the other hand, am having a blast. First, I got to teach (along with Lorilee Beltman and Carson Demers!) at the third annual Getaway Retreat hosted by the Bazaar Girls in the quaint little seaside town of Port Townsend, Washington. It was a treat to learn and share while enjoying refreshing sea breezes, locally grown produce, and freshly caught fish, and shopping from independent merchants.

After just four (4) days at home, I joined Lambs on the Run’s 16-day excursion to Italy that included knitting and cooking classes, tours of wineries, a chocolate factory, and a cashmere goat farm, visits to museums, and lots of time to soak up the local culture, art, and architecture. The trip began with three days in Rome, followed by trips to Milan, Perugia, Florence, Viareggio, Parma (oh, the cheese!), and Turin. I stayed a few extra days to visit Venice as well.

I was home just long enough to get over jet lag and repack my bags, then I headed to Freeport, Maine, for my ninth Knit For Fun Retreat, held at the incomparable family-owned Harraseeket Inn. There, I rubbed elbows with teachers Kate Atherley (from Canada), Isabell Kraemer (from Germany), and Mary Jane Mucklestone (from New England), and enjoyed making lots of new friends and reconnecting with old ones. “Fun” is an understatement!

I had another two days at home before heading south to Fredericksburg, Texas, for Cindy Hallam’s first Cre8tive Escape. My fellow teachers were German knitwear designer Isabell Kraemer and Saori weaving expert Kathy Utts. If you like to pair learning with intimate luxurious settings, look for future Cre8tive Escapes.

After a full two and a half weeks at home (during which I cooked all of my husband’s favorite meals), I’m about to fly east to teach at The Knitter’s Edge in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (June 11 and 12), and The Knitted Purl in Oyster Bay, New York (June 18 and 19). Of course I plan to make a detour to New York City to take in a couple of shows while I’m in the area!

My dear husband is delighted that I’ll stay home for the month of July (and I’ll enjoy sleeping in my own bed). During that time, I don’t know whether it’s wisest to treat him like a king in retribution for the fun I had without him, or to annoy him as much as possible so he’ll be glad to see me leave when my fall teaching schedule picks up.

Thanks to all of you who expressed interest in my books! And congratulations to all of the eagle eyes that noticed I mentioned that I’d announce a winner before the end of the raffle! That’s what I get for not editing my own post.

Because some of you couldn’t respond to my post and had to send individual emails, I decided to award a winner to each list.

For the 86 people who responded through the comments page, the random-generator choose Ruth G. who requested Sock Knitting Master Class.

 

 

For the 15 people who responded through an email, the random-generator chose Kathryn H, who requested Scarf Style 2.

Congratulations Ruth and Kathryn! I’ll contact you privately for your addresses and get the books in the mail to you right away.

I realized that it’s been quite a few months since I’ve offered a free book.

So, it’s raffle time again!

Tell me which of my books you’d like to win and I’ll include you in a drawing for a free copy!

I’ll announce a winner Tuesday, May 28. If I don’t hear back from that winner by May 25, I’ll choose an alternate winner. Good luck!

I’m sorry to say that due to postage costs, I must limit this offer to the United States.

I admit to having more than my share of handknitted socks. At last count there were 32 “active” pairs and another 38 pairs in my workshop/gift bin. That’s 70 pairs for a total of 140 individual socks!

Still, I find myself unable to stop knitting them. Whether I use double-pointed needles or the magic-loop method on a long circular needle, I find socks most satisfying to knit. And I prefer to wear them above any store-bought pair.

I love the endless combinations of stitch patterns and yarns. I rarely visit a yarn store without purchasing a skein of sock yarn and I have dozens of skeins of sock yarn to prove it.

I am currently working on three pairs. Clockwise from upper left: a pair of  Topsy-Turvey Socks in Madeline Tosh Tosh Sock in the Curiosity colorway (ready for the heel flap), a pair of Ann’s Go-To Socks in The Cyborg’s Craft Room Assockilate in the Impromptu Dance Party colorway (halfway down the foot), and another pair of Ann’s Go-To Socks in Jorstad Creek tweed sock yarn in a brilliant lime green (ready for the Kitchener stitch).

If you’ve never tried knitting socks, I suggest you get a copy of my Getting Started Knitting Socks book. It will guide you step by step through the process. If you’re ready to expand your sock horizons, check out Sock Knitting Master Class and New Directions in Sock Knitting. You’re sure to find a pattern that will, well, knock your socks off!

Without revealing my actual age, I will admit that I clearly remember where I was when I learned that John F. Kennedy was shot. Ever since then I’ve wanted to learn to draw. Although I took a variety of art classes in middle and high school, I never took a drawing class. By the time I was in college, I fancied myself a scientist and focused on calculus, physics, chemistry, and geology. I would never say it was a waste of time, but my college education seems to have little relation to my current career as a knitter, editor, and designer.

To encourage me to fulfill a decades-old dream, my dear husband gave me a drawing pad and set of pencils for my birthday last fall. They’ve been sitting on my desk ever since, silently taunting me.

I kept looking at the them, imagining how impressive I might be in my next class when I’d draw a sock or sweater silhouette that had proper proportions. I imagined how I’d capture the likeness of my cat Lily on paper. And, oh, what if I could make realistic sketches of sweater design ideas?

I kept myself entertained just thinking about the possibilities without ever opening the sketch pad.

 

 

Finally, I decided to act and I sketched three objects on my desk–a Sharpie marker, my cell phone, and a small wooden bowl that holds dietary supplements. The results were less than spectacular. My timid approach is evident in the faint and shaky lines. I closed the notebook and returned to my knitting.

 

A couple of months ago I revealed my secret desire to my Sunday knitting group, which consists of several “real” artists.  They heartily recommended You Can Draw in 30 Days by Mark Kistler. Mysteriously, the book appeared in my mailbox.

I was both thrilled and terrified. Could I possibly learn to draw in 30 days? The author insists that “anyone can learn how to draw; it is a learnable skill like reading or writing”.  I don’t have lofty expectations, but I will say that after just two lessons, I managed to draw a couple of tennis balls that look like, well, tennis balls!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Only time will tell if I can learn to draw. For now, I’m excited by the possibility. If I’m successful, I may tackle another dream — painting!