With a little help from my friend and knitting and website guru Lori, I’ve added a downloadable pdf of the formula to use to calculate the placement of increases and decreases evenly. It’s called Magic Formula for Placement of Increases and Decreases. Use it to create your own magic!

I spent last weekend teaching for Camp Yawatink, a knitting retreat in the picturesque foothills of the Cascade Mountains west of Anacortes, Washington, sponsored by Ana-Cross Stitch. From Friday morning until Sunday afternoon, the campers immersed themselves in knitting. I taught a full day on Saturday and again Sunday morning. The campers knitted a miniature sweater, learned to follow the instructions in The Knitter’s Handy Book of Sweater Patterns, how to sew seams, pick up stitches for a neckline, and other tips along the way. They also assembled afghans to donate to the camp, enjoyed a gift exchange, and won door prizes. I hope that they had as much fun as I did. In fact, I had so much fun that I didn’t want to filter it through a lens and I didn’t take a single photo!

The reason I’m writing about it today is that I’m still on a bit of high from the weekend. I’ve spent most of this week catching up on a backlog of editing work and piles of laundry (which is why I haven’t blogged much), but it was oh, so worth it. I encourage you all to take advantage of any knitting retreats that are provided in your area or travel to one (the French Girl Knits knitting tours of France look pretty wonderful!). Imagine a weekend where your only responsibility is to show up for meals on time. The rest of the time is spent with like-minded knitters enjoying each other’s company and learning new tricks.

From the feedback I got, the best trick I showed the campers was the shaping formula from Cheryl Brunette’s book Sweater 101 (Patternworks, 1991) and more recently expanded in Shirley Paden’s Knitwear Design Workshop (Interweave, 2010). This formula tells you how to space increases or decreases evenly across a row (or between a certain number of rows) of knitting. Here’s an overview of how it works (check out the books mentioned above for details):

Suppose you have 124 stitches on your needles and the pattern says to increase 14 stitches evenly. To determine how to space those 14 increases evenly, divide 112 by 14. This tells you the number of full times 14 goes into 112, which in this case is 8 with a remainder of 12.

To me, the rest is magical and would take a math genius to understand (I’m sure I’ll never grasp the logic). Next, subtract the remainder from the number of stitches you want to decrease, which in this case is
14 – 12 = 2.
Also add 1 to the whole number at the top of the division equation, which in this case is
8 + 1 + 9.

Finally, draw diagonal lines between the two numbers on the top line of the equation and the numbers on the bottom line of the equation. These diagonal lines tell you to increase every 8th stitch 2 times and every 9th stitch 12 times—14 increases worked over 124 stitches.

Don’t believe me? Check the math:
8 x 2 = 16
9 x 12 = 108

16 stitches + 108 stitches = 124 stitches
2 increases + 12 increases = 14 stitches increased.

For truly even spacings, alternate the two increase intervals. In this case, increase every 9th stitch 3 times, then increase on the 8th stitch once, then increase every 9th stitch 6 times, then increase on the 8th stitch once, then increase every 9th stitch 3 more times—14 increases worked over 124 stitches.

If you don’t want to work the last increase on the last stitch of the row (which I avoid at all costs), split one interval as evenly as possible between the beginning and end of the row. Just to make things more difficult, let’s split the 9-stitch interval:

Increase in the 4th stitch, then increase every 9th stitch 2 times, then increase in the 8th stitch once, then increase every 9th stitch 6 times, then increase in the 8th stitch once, then increase every 9th stitch 3 more times, then work 5 stitches even to the end of the row—14 increases worked over 124 stitches.

Decreases are worked the same way, but remember that a decrease is typically worked over 2 stitches (k2tog), so you would work the decreases on 7th + 8th stitches 2 times and on the 8th and 9th stitches 12 times.

Just before I left town last week to teach in Washington State, I finished blocking and photographing the Boxleaf Triangle Shawl (designed by Anne Hanson at http://www.knitspot.com/; yarn by Briar Rose at http://www.briarrosefibers.net/). The lace wasn’t quite as open as it should be and the edges were sloppy when it came off the needles.

But the pattern blossomed when I threaded blocking wires through the points and stretched out the stitches. Sorry about the non-coordinating towels—I generally like to block on top of a striped towel so that I have a reference for straight lines. In this case, the shawl was too big and I had to forget about the stripes and add a second towel. Still, part of the shawl extended to the bare (read that, dirty) carpet.

The shawl is beautiful. It feels nice around my shoulders and keeps me warm at my desk. But rather than photograph it on me, my friend Connie offered her floor lamp that doubles as a high-fashion model.

What’s next? I’ve got to knit two pairs of socks for two different publications by April 15. Oy!

I’m heading out to the beautiful Pacific Northwest this weekend to teach a workshop at Camp Yawatink, sponsored by Ana-Cross Stitch in Anacortes. I’ll give an introduction to sweater design based on The Knitter’s Handy Book of Sweater Patterns. It will be the first time I teach this workshop and I can’t decide if I’m expecting to accomplish too much or too little. Over the course of two days, we’ll knit a baby (or teddy bear) sweater following the instructions outlined in the Handy Book. Students will choose between a V or round neck, and between drop-shoulder (blue), modified drop-shoulder (green), and set-in sleeve (rust) options. We’ll work the sweaters with worsted-weight yarn and only 40 stitches for the front and back, but still, it’s a fair amount of knitting. I’ll talk about cast-ons, shaping, bind-offs, seaming, and picking up stitches, and whatever else comes up along the way.

Wish me luck! I sure had fun knitting sample sweaters for the class.

Advanced copies of Knitting Green arrived at Interweave Press last week. The other 15,000 copies are on the slow boat from China (literally) and will be available next month in time to celebrate Earth Day.

Needless to say, I’m pretty excited about this book. Instead of judging between “right” and “wrong,” Knitting Green will help you understand the complicated issues so that you can make educated choices for yourself. Articles by Pam Allen (former editor of Interweave Knits and creative director for Classic Elite Yarns) and Clara Parkes (editor of Knitter’sReview.com) explain some of the misconceptions about organic and “green” yarns. Essays by author and shop-owner Lisa R. Myers, natural-dyer Darlene Hayes, and author/designer/sheep-breeder Kristin Nicholas bring to light some of the pros and cons of putting green practices into use. Additional essays by Sandi Wiseheart (former editor of knittingdaily.com), Amy R. Singer (editor of Knitty.com), Kristeen Griffin-Grimes (frenchgirlknits.com), and avid knitter Carmen S. Hall provide a smorsgasbord of food for environmental thought.

In addition, there are 22 terrific projects (it’s photographed here with my Blue Cloud Afghan) that either make use of an organic or “green” yarn or are designed for an earth-friendly purpose. The projects include Veronik Avery’s All-North American Hoodie that is knitted with yarn that is grown, processed, and distributed only in North America; Nancy Bush’s Videvik Shawl that provides a lightweight layer of warmth; Deborah Newton’s Commuter Knapsack that encourages travel by bike or public transportation; my Honor-the-Buffalo Socks and Mitts that make use of buffalo fiber that would otherwise go to waste, and Kristin TenDyke’s Soap Nut Vessles that just might change the way you do laundry forever.

And talk about green–if you order this book through the Books page on my website, the kind folks at Interweave will give me a kickback of “green” currency!

The winner of the book drawing is nora-brown for her Chicken, Rice and Vegies recipe. I plan to make it this weekend!
Nora, please email me at annbudd@annbuddknits.com to state your book preference (go to my website for a list of all my books) and to give me your mailing address.

Everyone else, thank you for the diverse and tasty-looking recipes. I’ve already made Sandy’s Pork Chops & Apples (or Pears) and I plan to try Mary Ann’s Sausage, Potato, & Veg Bake tonight–just the thing to use up that tired-looking broccoli in the frige.

I’ll try to get all of the recipes together in a downloadable pdf next week.

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that many knitters have other impressive talents. Two of my friends, Bonnie and Jane, are also accomplished artists. Both love color and texture and use it liberally in their work (something I appreciate but am unable to do myself). Because I like to support my friends, I’ve bought paintings from each of them.

You may remember Bonnie from my February 1 blog post (Why I’m a Spoiled Brat #2). She’s the one with the unbelievable yarn stash. Although they don’t take up as much space, Bonnie has about as many paintings (oil, watercolor, pastel) as bins of yarn. If you look closely, you can see a few amongst her yarn stash.

The day I took the photo of Bonnie’s stash, I also purchased one of her pastel landscapes. It came back from the framer this week and is now hanging prominently in my livingroom. I only wish I had purchased one of her oils as well.

My friend Jane lives in Wisconsin and in addition to her own line of knitted garments and accessories (called Jazzknits), she paints pretty amazing watercolors. A couple of years ago I purchased a couple of Jane’s pieces that I lovingly stored under my bed waiting to find the funds to pay a framer. I finally took them to be framed the same day as Bonnie’s pastel. One is now featured at the end of a short hall that is visible from my place at the dining room table; the other, which is only about 6″ square, hangs by the light next to my side of the bed.

I love the way that as I walk through my house, I catch glimpses of Bonnie and Jane.

As predicted, I’ve been knitting socks instead of mending the holes in my old socks (but I still plan to get to them).

Remember the Sanguine Gryphon Eidos yarn I picked up at Sock Summit (see my blogpost Why I’m a Spoiled Brat—#4)? I just finished working it into my favorite k3, p1 rib pattern along the leg and instep. I worked a standard heel with heel flap and gusset and, just for fun, I worked Priscilla Gibson-Roberts’ short-row toe with a bind-off ridge on the top (this ridge is NOT uncomfortable in a shoe). I took advantage of the sun shining through my living room window to highlight the amazing colors in this “brown” yarn.

I also recently finished a pair of twisted rib socks. For this pair, worked in Footpath from the Wooly West, I used a tubular cast-on and worked a zig and zag near the top of the sock. I worked a basic heel with heel flap but for a little change, I worked the gusset stitches in the twisted rib pattern.

Being the spoiled brat that I am, I planned that both pairs would be for me. But I have a serious character flaw—every time I really like a pair of socks, I feel compelled to give it away. What is wrong with me?!

Don’t forget to submit a recipe to get included in Friday’s drawing for free book (see last week’s blogpost What’s for Dinner?).

I am overwhelmed with the recipe response–I’ve already received 19 recipes in less than than 12 hours. At this rate, I’ll have more than 1,500 recipes by the March 5 deadline. I’m already salivating and it’s only 7:00 am.
Thank you all!
For those of you working on Macs or who cannot post a comment, submit your recipe to my email address: annbudd@annbuddknits.com.
Feel free to submit as many recipes as you want, but your name will go in the hopper just once.
My current plan is to make a downloadable pdf of all the recipes when this is over. It just doesn’t seem fair for me to have all the good eats.

Do those three words make any of you cringe?

When we married, I told my husband that if he complained about my cooking, he’d have to cook the next meal. It’s been twenty years and he’s never complained—despite some of the sorry meals I’ve put in front of him (never put asparagus in a crock pot). It reminds me of a joke my father likes to tell about a group of men who go camping and draw straws for who will cook first. They agree that the first person to complain has to cook the next meal. Days go by and nobody complains as the fellow who drew the short straw serves progressively worse meals. He finally serves horse apples. On tasting it, one of his buddies says “This tastes like horse apples…but good!”

Unlike the implications of the joke, I don’t think the actual act of cooking is a problem, but I do get weary of deciding what to cook. There are just so many days that I can serve the same staple meals before I get bored. I spend a good part of each day chanting “what will I make for dinner.” Frankly, it wouldn’t be such a problem if it didn’t spoil the zen of my afternoon knitting. Most days, I don’t have an answer by 5:00 pm and I stare in the refrigerator and pantry for long minutes searching for inspiration.

But as I was making pasta (again!), I had the brilliant idea to set up a competition on my blog for easy, tasty recipes! Here’s how it works: You type the recipe for a favorite main dish in the comment box and I’ll send you an autographed copy (or not autographed if you prefer—the resale value is probably higher if I don’t deface it) of the Ann Budd book of your choice (see http://www.annbuddknits.com/ for a list of my books). If more than one person responds, I’ll put the names in a hat and draw a winner.

Winner will be notified March 5, 2010, at which time I’ll ask for your mailing address.
Important Note: The following ingredients are cause for disqualification: anchovies, brussel sprouts, any animal organ (ick).