Bellefleur Shawl

The triangular shawl I knitted out of Quince & Co Tern is now available on their website at And, boy, do they take a nice photo! You can get some close-up images if you go to their website and click on their blog.

Start the new year right–buy lots of patterns and lots of yarn!

A Finished Project!

I finished knitting the triangular shawl that I started while visiting my father in the hospital, worked on at the Knitter’s Review Knitter’s Retreat, and finally finished last week. The shawl requires 4 skeins of Quince Tern (a fingering weight yarn that’s 75% soft wool and 25% tussah silk). It follows a simple 8-stitch pattern that is repeated for 6 rows, then offset for the next 6 rows. The edging is worked simultaneously with the body of the shawl, then incorporated into the bind-off edge to be continuous around all three sides.
When I took the piece off the needles, I was surprised to see that the bind-off edge (which I thought would be the straight side at the top of shawl but forms the two ruffly sides in the photo below) produced a more pronounced “V” shape than the two selvedge edges (the two straighter edges in the photo). Veteran triangular shawl knitters probably know to expect this, but I was afraid that my triangular shawl would have four corners.
With a bit of a sinking feeling, I soaked the piece for 20 minutes, spun out the water, and set about blocking it. The thing about blocking lace shawls is that it’s absolutely necessary, but it’s fussy work that takes a lot of time and requires a large, empty space. My friend Lori has an entire bin of finished lace shawls (at least 20) that just need ends woven in and blocking. She says she prefers knitting lace shawls to blocking them, and after inserting blocking wires through every blessed edge stitch, I understand what she means.
Fortunately, the wires did their job—the stitches opened up beautifully and a perfect triangular shape was revealed. Unfortunately, the shawl was just too big for me to get a decent photograph, even when standing on a step stool. You’ll have to wait until Quince’s photographer Carrie Bostick takes a professional photo. This is the first project on my list of things to do for Quince & Co (see November’s post titled Back to Knitting)—it should be available from their website in a few weeks.
By the way, I still haven’t heard from Debbie, the winner of Getting Started Knitting Socks. Please, Debbie, contact me so I don’t feel like the girl who hosted a party that nobody attended!

Making Progress

I managed to finish the scarf I’ve been working on for the last few weeks in between hospital and nursing home visits. I used Quince & Co Tern in a lovely grape color (I’m sure it has an inspired name but I can’t find the label). I used size US 5 needles and about 1 1/2 skeins of yarn. This yarn contains 25% tussah silk, which gives the yarn a marvelous heathery appearance. I still need to write up the instructions, then the pattern (and yarn) will be available through Quince & Co soon.
Next up is a triangular shawl in my favorite olive green color.

Check it Out

Even though I’m not knitting much these days, the multi-size, multi-gauge toe-up sock pattern that I worked on earlier this summer got posted on the Quince & Co website yesterday. It’s included with the patterns for each of the five Quince yarns. Buy the pattern—I’m buying a lot of gas these days to visit my parents.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your good wishes where my parents are concerned. Both and stable and on the road to recovery. We’ve arranged for my mother to visit my father today—it will do them both a world of good.

Words I Thought I’d Never Say

I am finally tired of knitting socks. In the past two weeks I’ve knitted five pairs of adult medium socks and sample feet for four other sizes. I’m sure my saturation with sock knitting won’t last, but if I find time to knit today after I clean my desk, I’ll bypass my double-points in favor of circulars and cast on stitches for a triangular shawl (if I can find a suitably mindless pattern).
The first photo below shows socks with an 8″ foot circumference in Quince yarns at gauges of (from left to right) 4.5 (Puffin), 5.5 (Osprey), 6.5 (Lark), 7.5 (Chickadee), and 8.5 (Tern) stitches to the inch. The second photo shows the feet only in Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Worsted at 5.5 stitches/inch in size (from left to right) 9.5″, 9″, 7.5″, and 6.5″ foot circumferences.

Why have I been knitting socks like a fanatic? I’ve been under a self-imposed deadline to generate a toe-up sock pattern for multiple sizes (five) and multiple gauges (ten) for Quince & Co. Unlike the toe-up sock pattern (Working Socks from the Toe Up) I wrote for the Spring 2007 issue of Interweave Knits that features a short-row heel, this pattern looks like a “normal” top-down sock with a padded flap along the back of the heel and gussets along the sides of the instep. This pattern also includes stitch gauges in one-half-stitch-per-inch increments from 4.5 stitches/inch to 10 stitches/inch that gives enormous freedom for working with a variety of yarn weights and needle sizes. I plan to send the socks and pattern to the tech editor today so she can correct all my errors before the pattern is posted on the Quince & Co website. Stay tuned.

Red-Letter Day

Today my Abbey Road Socks got posted on the Quince and Company website, along with their new sock yarn Tern (a delightful mixture of 80% wool and 20% silk) and I turned in the manuscript for my next book: Sock Knitting Master Class: Innovative Techniques + Patterns from Top Designers. You can get the sock pattern right now from Quince and Co, but the book still needs to go through all the editing, design, and layout stages and won’t be available until next summer (in time for Sock Summit 2011). I’ll let you know exactly when.
Care to help me celebrate?

What I’ve Been Up To

It’s been more than a week since my last post and I’m feeling a little guilty. Here’s what’s kept me away from my computer.
Last week, our son Alex returned safely from Nicaragua. I’m happy to report that he looks and acts much the same as when he left. He had a fantastic time and is considering returning in a couple of years as a supervisor; he’s already talked on the phone with a few of the families he met. School starts tomorrow so he’s been off with his friends most of the time. I did catch him relaxing in the hammock he bought before he boarded the plane home.
I finished the repeat Beginning Spinning course I signed up for this summer. I have 930 amazing yards of two-ply Corriedale yarn to show for it. I haven’t decided what to do with this yarn—maybe a vest or some tightly knit, highly textured mittens. For now, I’m happy to just admire how clever it makes me feel.
I also knitted a pair of socks with my handspun for SpinOff magazine (it won’t be published for a few months) and a pair of gloves for Piecework (which also won’t be published for a few months). I bought the fleece for the socks (100% superwash merino) from Traci Bunkers at The Estes Park Wool Market in June. I spun the yarn on a spindle I bought the same day, then plied it with a wheel I borrowed during the spinning class. I purposefully spun the yarn as thin as I could, but after I plied and washed it, it came out more of a sportweight than the fingering weight I was after. To make sure I had enough yarn, I worked a short-row heel (which I believe uses less yarn than the more traditional round heel with gusset). I always count the number of rows in the leg and foot of a sock so that I can knit the mate to match. What I failed to take into account is that my handspun is not as uniform at mill-spun. One of the socks is considerably larger than the other. One of my feet is bigger so maybe this won’t be a problem.
I used the new Quince & Co Chickadee yarn for the gloves. It was a dream to knit with and I couldn’t be happier with the stitch definition!
I’ve also been experimenting with different ways to work a round heel on toe-up socks. This is the type of three-part heel that you usually see on top-down socks: heel flap, heel turn, and gussets. I’ve knitted five full-size samples and several small sections of just the heel turn. I’m getting close to working out my favorite method for various sizes and gauges. Stay tuned.

Great New Yarn!

My dear friend and co-author, Pam Allen, has recently started her own online yarn company, Quince & Company. Clara Parkes said it best in Knitter’s Review: Pam’s goal is to offer good, basic yarns in a ton of colors, sourced and spun in the U.S., priced reasonably, and backed with excellent pattern support. Those yarns requiring imported fibers (say, silk or cashmere) would be sourced as responsibly as possible. She currently has four yarns (sport, DK, worsted, and bulky), each available in 37 solid colors.
But that’s not all. Very soon Pam will unveil a sock-weight yarn, named Tern after one of the small birds native to Pam’s Maine home. Tern is a round 3-ply yarn of 75% soft U.S. wool and 25% silk added for strength, luster, and luxury. It is ideal for my current obsession for twisted and traveling stitch patterns. Pam sent me a trial skein of the yarn and I just finished the toe-up socks shown here. The pattern and yarn will be available at very soon!