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Rowan #49 Arrives

Sandy Harris talked me into subscribing to Rowan International and I’m glad she did. I never make anything from this magazine, but it affects many things I knit. It is photographed so beautifully that you could frame every picture and the layout always makes me feel like spring at the beach–even the winter editions.

So the new one is here and I wish to discuss it. In detail. Hope I don’t get arrested for copyright infringement.

Initial look-through

1. English beauties with skin to dye for. They make plain beautiful.

2. The Art! I want to visit every locale.

3. Neutrals! Mix them and they are luscious. Even the dark colors work like a neutral. Can wear forever.

4. (about the knitting, finally) Horrible shapes. Unwearable unless you are a 20 year old model, size 0. Except two of the men’s sweaters.

Second look–always the productive one

1. Awesome stitch patterns. Steal them and make your own projects.

2. Some interesting details used very well. Steal these too.

My list of swatches to knit.
1. Fancy by Erika Knight– She uses Kid Silk Haze. There is no substitute for Kid Silk Haze. Look-alikes don’t drape as well and are invariably scratchy. I say this and I don’t even like mohair, but I love Kid Silk Haze. The st pattern is new to me. I would use it for a scarf, cowl, or shawl.

2. Ghost by Amanda Crawford. This is the first of several that uses elongated knit sts (wrap the yarn around the needle 3-5 times then drop the wraps on the next row).

3. Gentian by Grace Melville, Like above. The drape and airiness is good for warm weather.

4. Cicely by Grace Melville. Worth the price of the mag. She’s figured out how to knit cables with holes in them. Hint: Think intarsia.

5. Earthy by Erika Knight–Steve wants this. Unstructured. Made from Purelife Revive, a classy, recycled yarn which has not one bit of stretch or memory. It feels like linen which has been washed for decades–soft! This is an openwork pattern that we’d call lace in a woman’s pattern. Steve is not afraid of lace!

6. Honesty by Marie Wallin (my favorite of their current designers–her stuff is so wearable) This is simple with a neat serpentine detail down the center of the sleeve. Easy to copy and use on other patterns. She shows how effective one well placed detail can be.

7. Illusion Wrap by Marie Wallin. We all know the summer will really unleash a desire to crochet. This is made from several motifs and they are not all square which I like. I have to make the really open square for my freeform project.

8. Unwind Wrap by Kaffe Fassett. Dead simple but so effective. He combines Summer Tweed and Kid Silk Haze. They are so different. He just uses stockinette stitch to create a Scribble Scarf which has been done often thanks to Debbie New, BUT Kaffe does color like no one else, and using these two yarns together is genius. A mindless project that will wow.

Question: Can I do this using a one ply Kaalund silk which lives in my Aussie stash? I’ll let you know.

9. Wholesome by Jennie Atkinson. Knit a solid color sweater and then embroider on some color rows. More than duplicate stitch, she uses real embroidery. An easy and effective way to get two or more color knitting.

That’s it for now. I do plan to knit swatches of these and will keep them to remind or inspire me. If I were a product-driven knitter, I’d do them all in shades of one color and sew them together into a something—scarf, bag, whatever.

Oh, Kaffe also has a home dec section where he has framed some of his colorful surface design patterns. I can do that!

More later–

Mountain Spring Shawl

Mountain Spring Shawl

Having a beautiful model never hurts when you show off your knitting.  Thanks, Donna.

I knit this using the new Charlotte Yarn  Yarn, The Girls Collection, Patsy’s Mountain Bluebird colorway designed by Cat Babbie.  This is my favorite colorway—today anyway.  But I still love Jane’s Blackberry Cobbler.

This is a merino wool and it is so soft and cuddly.  I swatched this in many stitches and decided I liked the stockinette best for showing off the colors.

The shawl is designed to hug you and stay on your shoulders even during vigorous activity.  Let’s all pause and reflect on that, but don’t put down your knitting.  I’ve been chasing this perfect shaping of a shawl for several years and I think I’ve finally got what I wanted.  Kudos to all the designers who came before and from whom I’ve learned.

The pattern will be available for test knitting soon.  It’s very easy, just some stockinette, some garter and a very simple lace border.  The secret is in the increases.  Because the yarn is worsted weight, it knits up very quickly so makes a good last minute gift.

Can you tell I’m pleased with this?  It took a lot of work to get to this simple.

Don’t forget to enter the Knitcircus contest.   You have until Sunday night.  Click here for details.

More later–

“The Girls” at Charlotte Yarn


color not accurate–way too blue purple

Cat Babbie is a true artist. She even has a degree, but she was born with a huge need to create beauty. This she has done in many genres, but this new one is hand-dyed yarn, and I get to be part of it.

Cat and Charlotte Yarn owner Remi have combined ideas and resources to create a custom line of hand painted yarn for the shop. The first collection is called “The Girls,” and it honors all of us who work at the shop.

Cat asked me what I wanted my colorway to look like. Jane ain’t no fool! No way I was giving directions to the expert. The result is Jane’s Blackberry Cobbler. It is so me, and I am so pleased that Cat knows me this well.

I love it, love it, love it.  Unfortunately I can’t photograph it.  I’ve tried over and over and I can’t get the color right for you.  I can’t even edit it right for you.  Trust me.  It is blackberry color.

The first project, which will be at the shop tomorrow, is this scarf which combines a basic K3, P1 rib with knit and crochet scrumbles. I used some of my favorite crochet patterns

Fairy wings, Traveling Ivy, Bullions, Irish rings, Leaves, Blackberries ( well, berries)

After I finished the scarf, I played paper dolls with the various bits of scrumble until I discovered something I liked. I tried to vary the pieces, and I had to make a few more to fill in some holes. I just whipped them on with the same yarn. If they had been knit with a contrasting yarn, I probably would have used sewing thread to keep the sts invisible on the back. Was not a problem here though.

Since the yarn comes in a 250yd skein, one skein was plenty. The base yarn is 100% merino wool ( yum) in a worsted weight. I used a size 8 US needle and various crochet hooks.

Turtlegirl76 aka Cristi has a feature about her Tabby Tuesday colorway here.

The other colorways, all gorgeous, can be seen here. I’ve already started a shawl with the one for Patsy.  The ones here that Cristi shot are closer to the correct color.

I’m sorry, Cat.  Just shows a photo is nothing compared to the original.

Swatching some ruffles

It really pays to swatch.  I’ve known this forever,  but am now really trying to remember it before I go headlong into a big project.  This swatch is about several things.

First is linen stitch.  How well does it work with fingering weight yarn and how does it look in a pattern dyed yarn?  So I knit some up.


Actually I knit an 18 inch strip using size 1 needles. It takes 10-12 rows to get one inch of linen st in this size yarn. But I like it a lot, so would be willing to knit a long time to get a nice cardigan band or a cuff for a sleeve.

Thinking about bands and trims reminded me of ruffles. What pattern do I like best for ruffles? I don ‘t really know. Time to swatch some more. Might as well use the band.


But wait!  Will just knitting it onto the band have an effect of some kind on the ruffle?  Better cast on some to the end of this row and ruffle with and without the band.

So I cast on 20 extra stitches and used the first 20 stitches of the band and did the following:

Row 1:  (K1, yo) in each st to the end, end k1.

Row 2-4:  Work in stockinette st.

Row 5:  (K1, Kfront and back) repeat across

Row 6: P all.  Row 7–9: Knit all.  Row 10:  Bind off in Knit.

Discovered:  1:  Band restricts curling of piece just a bit; 2.  yo increase drapes more than Kf&b; 3:  I like a little garter at the end of the ruffle with a RS bind off.  Need to remember #3.  4:  Don’t like wobbly edges.

Therefore must knit another ruffle.

Ruffle #2 starts with Binding Off 16-18 stitches of the linen band.  I’m trying to make the edge more stable by using the bind off and then pickup method to eliminate stretching.

  1. Pickup one st in each of the bound off stitches.
  2. K5, Purl to last 5 sts, k5.  (Keep 1st and last 5 sts in garter st.)
  3. K row
  4. P row
  5. (K1, yo) across for increases
  6. P
  7. K
  8. P
  9. (K2, yo) across for increases
  10. P
  11. K
  12. P1, yo, (P2, yo) across
  13. K
  14. K
  15. K
  16. Bind off in K.

I like that it’s not so kinky, curly.  I like the openness of the yo increase.  Increasing every four rows is nice.  Garter edges are good too.  But what is the easiest and fastest increase to use?  Can I use a rib stitch for a ruffle?

I really like the lifted increases.  Cat Bordhi has brought this technique back into popularity, but it’s been around a long time.  It’s fast and it’s invisible.  Try it.

Ruffle #3

  1. Knit up the next 18-20 strips from the strip.
  2. K row
  3. K row
  4. (K1, M1) across using the Lifted increase for the M1
  5. K1, P1 across–a 1×1 rib
  6. rib
  7. rib
  8. rep. row 4
  9. rib
  10. rib
  11. rib
  12. bind off in knit using the fingering wt yarn doubled.

Rib makes it stand up more and curl less.  Love the doubled yarn bind off, both the enlarged size and the blending of the colors.

    Look at the bind off from the top. 

    Now I lose my mind.  How do I do a double ruffle?  (Why would I want one?)

    This way lies madness, but this is really what I did.

  1. K 8 sts from the linen strip.
  2. K
  3. K1, Inc 1, K to last st, inc 1, k1
  4. K
  5. K
  6. P
  7. (k1, yo) across, end K1
  8. K
  9. Grab a double pointed needle or a toothpick and slip the yo’d sts to that separate needle.  It’s every other st; don’t twist them.  Hold this needle to the back of the work.The row goes( K1, slip 1 to dpn) end k1.
  10. Ignore the dpn and those sts.  Working on your regular needle, (k1, yo) to the end.
  11. k
  12. k
  13. k
  14. k
  15. Bind off in knit.  Part one is now finished.

Part 2:  Attach yarn to the sts on the dpn and k2–3 rows.  Bind off in knit.

Part 3:  With the RS facing you, pick up one st in each of the bumps created by knitting row 2.  (8 sts)  Begin picking up on the left hand side.  Attach the yarn on the right hand side and begin knitting.

  1. K f&b
  2. p
  3. (k, k f&b) across
  4. p
  5. repeat row 3
  6. bind off in purl

What I learned?  Too much is too much. But I kind of like picking up across some RS bumps and adding a bit of ruffle.  Nice embellishment.

However–

    This bit across the back is just plain ugly.
    Am I finished?  Nonsense. 

    Ruffle 5

    Work in the next 15 sts of the linen strip.

    Row 1:  (K3, P3) 2x, k3

    Row 2:  (P3, K3) 2x, p3.

    Repeat once or twice more.

    Then ?????????

    Just for fun, here’s the whole thing.

    Could be the end of a shawl?!?

    About the yarn.  This is a sock yarn from Coats and Clark, Red Heart Heart and Sole Color 3960,  that was sent to me to do some design with.  At first I didn’t like it, but that changed.

    The dye for pattern effect is never a favorite for me, but the uneven stitch count skipped the pattern and just blended the stitches in a really nice way.

    It’s not Malabrigo, CTH, or Tosh, so it doesn’t have that softness or clarity of st pattern; but it also doesn’t cost as much so you can afford to buy it just to play and discover.

    True Confession—The longest wearing, best-looking-after-being-washed-forever socks in my extensive collection are two pair of Lion Brand sock yarn designs.  The yarn in this appears to be the same blend and spin.  And they are sock enough.

    I will use this yarn again and I will nag Cat to get them to create some solids.

    More later–

American Yarns

One shop wasn’t enough for Liz and I.  We left Kaalund and headed for American Yarns.  I couldn’t wait to find out what American yarns meant.  Liz had been there before, but we used her Tomtom just in case.

A long time later—-

Tomtom, iPad, and, finally, the iPhone.  It took all three to get us there.  Much laughing as we found out that we were stymied because the council had changed the name of the area where the shop is located.  With directions from Gabrielle, the owner, who agreed to stay open for us, we arrived.

Totally different kind of shop than the others I’ve been to here.  She carries a wide range of yarns, from Bernat and other acrylics to Sweet Georgia handpainted silks.

The Bernat is very popular with her crochet customers who meet to do charity knitting in the large sit and knit area.

I saw Abuelita yarns from S. America which were very similar to Malabrigo.  There were two skeins in the sale bin for only $5.00.  Note the use of the past tense in that sentence.

She is the only person I’ve seen catering to machine knitters or selling wheels—Ashford’s of course.

She had lots of Namaste bags, several I had not seen.  Bags are important here.

No one goes anywhere without bags dripping from their bodies to carry their shopping and stuff.  Witness the picture with the sign.  The bag isn’t flattering draped across me that way, but it’s the only way to carry it and bags of yarn, or sometimes groceries.  Thank you again, Vicki.

I fell in love with this sweater.  It’s the dog thing.

One other comment about this shop owner.   She looks for deals and then passes them on to her customers.  She had found some German yarn had an error on the label.  It only said 75 m when clearly there was more on the ball.  She bought it cheap and sold it cheap to her customers.  I don’t dare tell you how much I paid for some balls of luscious silk/cashmere lace weight from China.  I’m going back to get some more.

She could have so easily just priced these yarns at market value and taken her big profit, but that isn’t her way.

We contributed well to her profits and called it a day.  Rode home listening to music from an Aussie named John Williamson.  A folk and country mix with remarkable wordsmithing skills.

More later–

Tangled Yarns

The first yarn shop I visited here was Tangled Yarns.  I rode the bus solo for the first time  the day I went up.  A delightful older woman (I forget I am an older woman) helped me figure out my stop and took me under her wing.   She also told me to wrap my summer clothes in calico to keep the silverfish off them.  ????? Haven’t seen any silverfish.

Kelly, Lauren, Kiley

I walked in to the shop in the middle of a dyeing class.  Kelly, the owner, was teaching it so we didn’t ever really have time to talk, but I spend a lot of time with Lauren who works there.  She is the one in the center and she’s very funny.  Kelly’s employees and her customers seem to love her as much as we love Remi and Debbie.

Turns out Kiley, the student on the right had read my blog and even commented a time or two.  She, like Liz, found me on the shop’s Ravelry group when I introduced myself.  Hm-m-m-m-m—does that tell you what to do next time you are going to a new place.  Join the Ravelry groups.  Boy, it has paid off for me.

(For you non-knitters, Ravelry is a magnificent online database of over one million knitters worldwide.  We post our projects and comment on patterns and yarns we like—or don’t like.  It is a treasure of information and it is free!!!!)

I watched the class a bit and shopped around.  I took time to look at all the Jo Sharp books because I never get to see them in the states.  I liked the Jo Sharp wool and thought of Beth S., who has knit some Jo Sharp cotton before.

Kelly’s stock of her hand dye is low; there was some pretty yarn, but not enough in my colorway to make anything substantial, so I passed on it.

All the other yarn in the show is easily available at home except this.  Biggan Yarn is an Australian brand.  This is superwash wool in a DK weight.  It was very soft and the way this fiber takes dye is amazing.   Every color is vibrant, even the darks and the pastels.  Most of the lines of wool in the states, like Cascade 220 or Reynolds Galway, have a greyed quality to their colors which doesn’t work on me.  I’d love to have access to this and will continue to check the web.

I loved the use of the drying rack to display things in the window.

This is Liz.  She is a saint, and I’ve only said that about one other person—Linda Murray Betadishoo.  I hope I spelled that right.

Thursday night Liz drove me to Tangled Yarns for a sit and knit.  On the way she pointed out every bakery and patisserie we passed and recommended stuff—she’s evil.  Then she took me to the James Street Market, even nicer than The Fresh Market.  We looked at fruits and veggies, some of which I’d never seen and she clued me in.  Then she took me to the fish section and showed me Moreton Island Bugs.  $54.99 a kilo!  They are very similar to lobster, but even better.  She told the clerk I was a Yank and had never even heard of them and that he should let me taste one.  Darn if he didn’t.  He cracked one and pulled out a bunch of the meat and we ate away.  I told you Liz was evil—and she has powers.

At knit night I met Derrin who had just finished a new shawl.  It was her birthday and she was loving the little gifts everyone was bringing her.

We knit and talked and talked and knit.  On my left is Kim who also works there and Julia who has picked up a UFO and is determined to finish it.  Everyone was so nice.

On the way home Liz took me on an after dark ride around the city.  This was the first time I’d seen the city lights from afar.  Steve and I will have to take a ferry ride after dark and I’ll get some pictures to share with you.

Every day brings something new.  How many people do you know who can say they ate a Moreton Bay Bug?

Oh, and wait until you find out where Liz and I went the next day.

More later–

Back from Boston

First, the non-knitting stuff.   Went to Boston to visit Kate, dear friend who has undertaken the adventure of creating a new, exciting life which involved moving to Boston.  After four days there, who wouldn’t.  This is an amazing place and I’m in love.  I may even watch the Red Sox–while knitting them, of course.

First was the Duck tour.  That’s the boat/car above.  You can read all about the WWII vehicles they use and where they go here. The tour is great fun because you ride a car into the water, but more so because your conducktor is insane—but very knowledgeable.  Our Conducktor was Hardly Davidson and we could have asked for no one better.

He knew the city, the history, and how to entertain.  If you go to Boston, if you even live in Boston, you must take this tour.

The other tour that is required is the Samuel Adams Brewery Tour.  It isn’t a long tour, but is entertaining and smart.  Most of your time is spent in the tasting room which is why you went in the first place, and they give you plenty to taste.  All you have to do is cheer on cue.  Hop on the T and head south.  When we got off the T and looked a bit confused, two different people asked, “Looking for Sam’s?”  They know their tourists.

That ended the first day and we went back to Kate’s very charming apartment perched upon a really steep hill and spent the evening with wine and beer and heirloom tomatoes and other good stuff that Steve fixed.  Joy.

Day 2–the Classic Elite Mill Store, Vicky, Jack, Ann, artists, and a meatball sub.

In Lowell, MA, about 20 miles from Kate’s apartment is the Hub Mill Store which is attached to the Classic Elite Warehouse, etc., and a huge artist’s complex similar, but larger, to the McCall Center in Charlotte.

You know you are there when you park in front of this.  Wire and yarn, both good things.

We went in and I could barely breathe.  The store is a yarn store and carries yarn not made by Classic Elite.

Kate bought Claudia Handpaints Silk and Artyarns stuff with little sequins.

I bought mostly cotton blends that I haven’t seen before and immediately started swatching.

Best of all–this is where Classic Elite sells their overruns and discontinued yarns at a discount.

Vicki, a local school teacher who works here the odd Saturday, was so patient and kind to us.  She just laughed as we worked our way through the stock over and over.

When it came time to pay, I was nervous.

She let me sign my receipt while she covered the amount.

We had planned to go to the National Quilt Museum and the home of the artist James Whistler, but stayed on at Western Avenue Studios to meet various artists and do a bit more shopping in the Gallery.  Western Avenue Studios is really a large former textile mill which houses over 200 artists.  They receive studio space at a nominal fee as well as a community of creativity and a place to sell their work.

The sponsors of this space also have a tremendous public outreach.  Check out their site.

I bought a great photo from Jack Holmes to give to Steve.  It is being shipped.  Jack was there and I got to spend time talking to him about his work.  He travels everywhere to take pictures and then returns to his homebase in Andover and Lowell to tweak his work.  Site with gallery. Look for El Claustro in Grenada in the Landscapes gallery.

Ann Lee took us to her Fabric art studio and let us play and ask questions.  Kate bought a marvelous jacket from her which is truly an art garment.  Ann shares a studio with friends and they call the place Friends Fabric Art.  I also subscribed to her blog which has many more pictures of her work.

If you mention Lowell to folks around Boston, you will get a sad look.  It is considered a working class town gone downhill.  That’s why we were so shocked to find this huge artist community and a bustling downtown with lots of restaurants and nice people.  Just one warning–parallel parking is required in downtown Lowell.  And you may have to drive many blocks from your restaurant in order to find several empty spaces in a row to park your rental car.  So embarassing.

I’ll show you my yarn purchases later–

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