Saturday, December 29, 2007

EZ's Garter Stitch Baby Blanket, so easy, even a masochist, oops, I mean, it was easy, once I figured out what to do with the center stitches.

You figure out how big you want your blanket to be. Then multiply the stitches per inch by the length, and halve that and that is the number of stitches you cast on. Pretty cool. You knit the first row, and when you get to the last stitch, turn before you knit it, and knit back. You keep knitting this way, doing short rows. When there are five stitches left, you stop so your corners will be nice. Then you knit one more stitch each time. My problem was when I got to

the center. Was I to keep knitting doing short rows, or quit and knit all the way to the end? I stopped doing short rows at five stitches, just like the other end. No. I ended up with a mountain in the middle of the blanket. So you keep doing short rows all the way to the end in what will be the center. She says it should lay so nice and flat that you don't even have to block. I wouldn't go that far, but once I get it kitchnered together, it should be fairly square.

Here's another problem. I am a fairly intelligent woman. I've read the Greek classics. I have a degree. I went to nursing school. Why can't I kitchner? Am I being punished for giving my daughter's dog away when she was eight? Not only do I mess it up every time I try it, I don't think I understand what I am doing. The gals knitting in the store today; Beth, Cate and Kelly, looked at me like I had two heads. Cate said, 'You're a weaver, just weave it together.' Maybe Myra will do it for me.

I knit it of Plymouth's Knitcol, a lovely and soft superwash wool. I used two and a quarter balls for a 22 inch receiving blanket. I didn't try to make the stripes symmetrical, it just turned out that way. I have enough left over to do a cute little newborn hat I saw in Knitting for Peace.

I think the baby blanket is important when planning on pursuing EZ's garter stitch patterns. The Baby Surprise Jacket has similar elements in part of it, when you are shaping the front. You don't know that is what you are doing the first time, that is for sure! I'm going to so a few more baby blankets in washcloth size so I can really understand that center.

The Garter Stitch Baby Blanket is in Knitting Workshop, the book we are using as a guide for the Zimmerman study we are going to do. Usually, I like patterns that say, ok, pick up your yarn in your right hand, knit five stitches, purl five, it's ok to take a sip of coffee now, etc. You get my point. The Sunrise Circle Jacket was my favorite project to date and I think because it had eight pages of instructions. Reading EZ's patterns are a stretch for me. At the end of the book, she says you will be a master knitter if you do all the projects in it. I am just interested in the garter stitch patterns.

I have the rib warmer on the needles and also started another baby surprise, so I am on my way.
It was a prolific knitting week! This is Kelly's Top Down Yoked sweater that appeared in Knits. She knit it of Cascade 128 Tweed, and loved working with it so much that she bought the Burnt Orange and is doing it for her daughter, Rachel, as well. I have to mention that she bought the yarn right before Christmas and knit while on vacation....jeesh, youth!
This is Marna's Wrap Me Up Shawl, knitted of Paint Box. She did a really nice job on it. The beading is beautiful! She was surprised how long it got when she blocked it, but I like it longer. If we get snowy weather, it would wonderful wrapped around the body.

All our knitting buddies are finishing things left and right. This is Marna's Oregon Tote of Lopi. It is really lovely.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Jane's vest is knit of my favorite yarn, Jamieson Shetland. She came in one day and bought the yarn and came back three days later with the vest done and a few more things started. She is amazing!

I got to see customers from all over the area and further today. Lou from Ontario came in with her delightful niece. Lou always wears something she knit and today it was a gorgeous shrug of Nolita, a Lily Chin yarn. I wish I would have taken a picture of her. Lou always looks beautiful. It was great seeing her again.

Pat from Wall Township made one of her twice yearly jaunts today. She comes in, we give her a basket, and she loads up. She always brings us gifts, too, of beautiful jewelry she makes herself.

Jean and Jill from the Bethlehem area also came in today for a nice long visit. We belong to the North Country Spinners guild in Blairstown, NJ and took the self stripping yarn dyeing class together in October. We also took the dye workshop at Prochemical in Westport, MA together last July. It was one of the most grueling classes I have ever taken. Having my friends suffering along with me made it so much more fun!!!

Judy came in for a quick visit, and then Joann and Elda came to sit a spell. It was old friends day. Judy is knitting the Wrap Me Up shawl, Joann is working on several crochet project and weaving like a maniac, and Elda is finishing up the cardigan from hell and dreaming about the Kidsilk Haze mitered square shawl that everyone is making now.

Phyllis is finishing up her Wrap Me Up and it is gorgeous. I'll get a picture of it before she gives it to her daughter. Susie came in to get more Paint Box for her Wrap. She used a combination of yarns, including a mohair boucle that Woolbearers dyes. It's beautiful and unusual. Lisa got Cascade 128 to strand with Nolita for a great hat and muff she is knitting from an old pattern. It's going to look great. Linda got my favorite Claudia colorway, Copper Pennies.

Suzanne came home from college for the holiday and is working for us again. She is the master skeiner! Amazing!

So although I'm not getting much knitting done, I'm seeing my friends every day. That is what is so nice about having a knitting shop!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Spinners Take Note! Several weeks ago, Myra went on a dyeing spree and this roving is the result of it. It's wonderfully soft. We both spun a little today and it spins like a dream. Just in time for Rock Day, January 5th.

This is Amy's Mitered Shawl as of two weeks ago; I'm sure she has completed more and hopefully, she'll bring it in to the store this weekend. Myra is going great guns on her's and it is gorgeous, too. The Kidsilk Haze is just so soft and light. I'm tempted, but will try to resist.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Great American Afghan KAL Knitting afghans never had much appeal to me. They just seemed so big and there was all this endless knitting. I once made an afghan; it was knitted in strips, but I was so bored with it that my grandmother put it together for me. I made it a loooong time ago -- about 35 years and from the feel of it, it is probably not made of anything I would use today. In fact, I look at it and I can't believe that it's something I actually knit.

I've made a few baby blankets -- but they were small. Sew together 49 blocks? Piece of cake (yeah, right!)

Which leads me to the question, why do the Great American Afghan (here on after referred to as GAA)? Well, I'd seen the original and wasn't overly impressed. But the new book came out in colors that I really like and all of the sudden it looked very appealing. I started thumbing through the book and found that all the blocks were designed by some of the best known knitting designers we know -- Nancy Bush, Meg Swansen, Sally Melville, Melissa Leapman, Lily Chin to name a few. I looked very closely at all the designs and discovered how each block was unique and had so many different techniques. I was hooked. I started with Block 15 ( I never go in order) because it really intrigued me. I thought it was going to be so difficult, but it turned out to be one of the easy ones.

Block 15 - designed by Marge Hayes, Aberdeen South Dakota

I couldn't wait to tackle Kathy Zimmerman's Block 8. I often lusted after her cabled sweater designs in the many magazines I've seen her designs in, but I never have time to complete a complicated cable pattern, so this should satisfy my needs. And it did! Now, the GAA book lists it as one of the 5 easiest squares. I'd say that's stretching things a bit, but after the first few rows, it did knit quickly.

Block 8 by Kathy Zimmer, Ligonier PA

Kelly was in the shop this week, furiously knitting the vest she promised her Mom for Christmas. As I was looking at her finished back and right front I thought the design looked familiar. Well, I had joined the GAA group on Ravelry and someone mentioned that the square Sally Melville designed had been turned into a vest by Sally and was published in an issue of Knitters Magazine. I don't know why that stuck in my head, but when I saw Kelly's vest, Block 21 jumped out at me. Sure enough it was the same. So, Kelly has promised that she will knit Block 21 for us. I can hardly wait and if I know Kelly it will be done in no time.

Part of Kelly's Mom's vest -- just like Block 21 by Sally Melville

Here's one more block - Block 23 by Meg Swansen. I thought this was an unual looking block. It was fun and easy to do -- here Meg combines intarsia and i-cord. I don't know who else could have come up with that combo.

Block 23 by Meg Swansen, Pittsville, WI (still wet from blocking)
I'll post more pictures next week. Right now I've finished 5 blocks and have 2 more on the needles. I'll talk more about some of the pitfalls I've found (anyone ever do a Knit bullion Stitch?) and hope that you can all join me in the KAL. You can sign up by calling or coming into the store and we will put a signup on the on-line store as well. If you don't live in the area, please join us on-line with your progress and comments -- join the Ravelry GAA group as well.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

New Claudia Handpainted Yarns Color !!!! Our shipment of Claudia handpainted yarns arrived today. They are so beautiful. And they compliment the colors we have in stock. Claudia fingering weight yarn is perfect for socks. It is also machine washable on the delicate cycle.

Last week, I started a baby blanket from Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitting Workshop, finished it last night, and realized today I had to rip. It's ok though. The yarn is beautiful, a self stripping yarn by Plymouth called Knitcol, washable wool, and it was fun to knit with. So I'll just knit it over. I'm learning that EZ's patterns are to be taken at face value. Just do what she says, don't read between the lines, and you'll be ok.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Naomi Cannon wove this beautiful rug for her grandson. She came to me last year with the yarn, a selection of beautifully spun wool in white and shades of grey. We chose three colors of blue, a light, medium and dark. I over dyed one of the grey yarns. Then Naomi got busy weaving and this is the result. I was proud to have dyed the yarn for her.

The pictures show how different it looks on a black background and a white background.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Size Matters....especially with knitters. Nothing is more frustrating than knitting something that doesn't fit the wearer. As a fairly new knitter of about four years, I learned quickly that the measuring tape is my best friend. I know right away if something is going to work.

One of the reasons I love to knit scarves, shawls, purses, stuff for the house, is that is doesn't really matter if I get gauge or not. (It's doesn't matter to ME, I should say.) However, all of this goes down the drain if what I am knitting has to be felted.

Felting is pretty subjective, isn't it? Does my machine felt as well as yours'? I like hard felt, Myra likes a drapier felt. But how do you know exactly how much bigger to make your project? Careful, frequent checking inside the washing machine seems like the best way to proceed. I once made a laptop bag that was about twice as big as I needed it to be, but when it felted, it grew width wise and shrunk in half top to bottom. So we cut it half and made two purses out of it.

Donna's fun bag looks like it might be a great place to take a nap with the addition of some tent poles. She good naturedly let us tease her about it's size. We are hoping it shrinks at least a third.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Hi All,

We have tons of new yarns in this week!

Most excitingly, Orenburg Lace from Cherry Tree Hill. This rare
lace wieght yarn is handspun in Russia. It is a luxury blend of kid
mohair and silk, spun by hand into 50 gram hanks of 600 + yards and
handpainted at Cherry Tree Hill. "We can guarantee that no where
else will you find yarn as exotic and rare as this", says Cherry
Tree Hill staff. Each hank is enough to knit a shawl. Come in and
see the beautiful colorways!

You can never have enough sock yarn! We have several new yarns from
Plymouth; Knit Col, a self-stripping, 100% Merino superwash, and
Happy Feet, superwash Merino and nylon. At 192 yards for $6.00,
this is the best value in a beautifully painted yarn I have ever

From Cascade, we have Nickki, a fabulous thick and thin, handpainted
yarn with a luster and drape that is to die for. Also from Cascade,
Lana Grande, a Peruvian Highland wool. At 87 yards for $6.95, it is
a great price for a very chunky (2 stitches – 1" on size 17
needles), soft yarn.

From Knit One, Crochet Too, we have Baby Boo, a bamboo nylon blend.
Also, everyone has been asking for dye kits, so we got Culinary
Colors, eco friendly, kitchen safe dyes for yarns and fibers.

From Dream in Color, the 200 series colors arrived. The eight new colors are vibrant and exciting.

We have more wonderful things on order, and some things that came in
last week that may have slipped my mind, so the best thing to do is
to come in and see for yourself!

Don't forget, Friday night is the book signing with Mary Beth
Temple, author of The Secret Language of Knitters. See you at 6pm!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Golden Compass is a movie that is going to open this weekend........the producer must have a relative in the yarn business who is trying to get rid of novelty yarns. The character of Lyra wears several knitted outfits which include three different hats, leg warmers, sweaters, mittens and this coat. It actually looks like a quick knit, of something bulky, lots of garter stitch. I would leave out the fun fur.

I wonder if the movie will have the same cachet that Harry Potter did. Will we see Golden Compass knitting patterns? Will there be more requests for fun fur? I might try to knit up a quick sample of something similar, just to get ahead of the crowd....if it is a hit. If it's a flop, just delete this post.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Little Closer to Heaven You know how some projects take over your life? The pattern is challenging and makes you feel like you can do anything knittable, working with the yarn is better than sex, (if you're over 50), almost as good as chocolate, and who's qualities monopolize your conversations. Day to day work drags until you can become one with your knitting bag again. You pull over to the side of the road to read through the directions one more time. Dinner comes from the colonel. A light pressing with the iron and no one will know that shirt was worn before. Who has time for cooking and laundry???? You want to knit!!!

Working with Kidsilk Haze has that effect on most women (and possibly, men). And now, this beautiful scarf pattern by Mags Kandis.

All the colors for the Modern Quilt Wrap have arrived from Rowan. The display is so lovely in the store! Myra started to knit it and it is all modular and easy. It must be the year of the wrap.

So come in, see the yarn, dream, drool and start a new project!!!

There is nothing more satisfying for a knitter than finishing a project. Or almost being done!!! Here are more customer projects.

Kristen is almost done with yet another beautiful project. This is the best use for novelty yarns I have seen; a simple camisole. She wants to crochet an edging and then block it.

Pam from MA is just about done with her beautiful, fair isle tam. Pam is Wendy Byar's sis.

The lovely scarf of bulky Sheep Shop is crocheted and just wonderful. And the Noni bag is almost done, just needs the handles. For every project finished, another just awaits you!!!!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Ravelry By now I'm sure that most of you have heard about Ravelry and either joined or are on the waiting list. I wasn't sure what to expect when I joined, but now I'm addicted. It's fun to find all the other folks working on the same projects as you are or looking at other projects that you are just dying to get your needles casted on for. Our ravelry ID is Woolbearer and we are also starting to list our yarn. So if you haven't been able to link your Woolbearers yarn before, check again and there's probably a link for your Woolbearers yarn now.

The other thing that Ravelry is doing for me, is getting me more focused on finishing projects.

Here is my second "Wrap Me Up" shawl. Now, I hardly ever knit anything twice. That's why I don't do socks. Too many onesies. But I saw the Karaoke yarn sitting on the shelf for so long, I had to do something with it. Then I thought -- maybe I could make this into an "evening wrap"; one that I could wear when I go out at night, say to Wegman's. Anyway, I dressed it up a little bit by putting fake pearl and silver beads on it. The edging is done in Anny Blatt Angora and there's a bit of Lily Chin's Greenwich Village black mohair/glitz in several blocks. That's what I love about this project -- so many choices. Everyone who has done the wrap has come up with a completely different look for it.
Another FO

Jo Sharp Felted Bag from Jo Sharp Knits 3. This was fun to make because it's not a lot of knitting. There's a tiny bit of intarsia and some short row shaping -- a very satisfying project and of course, the felting part hides all the flaws.

But, I had lots of yarn leftover. What to do. Another project of course. So, I finally started the Adult Surprise Jacket. I read EZ's pattern and opened up my excel spreadsheet and went to town. I've finished the first section of decreases, now I'm back to the increases. After the holidays this will be a Woolbearers KAL. Stay tuned. I would be working on this more, but after perusing Ravelry's pattern pages I just had to stop and knit up

these adorable baby booties and Norwegian cap. I'm using our new Karabella Aurora 4. It's so soft and yummy to knit with. The pattern for the booties can be found here and this is link for the hat.
These will be finished in no time.
Other UFO's -- The Modern Quilt Wrap from Folk Styles which I will begin again as soon as the rest of the yarn comes from Rowan (this week I've been told).

Another project from Folk Styles -- the Grand Waistcoat made out of The Fibre Company's Terra

The good or bad thing about Ravelry is it reminds you just how many projects you actually have on the needles. There are lots more UFO's. Come visit me on Ravelry to see more. I'd love to see what you are working on!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Can't Wait for the New Year !!!!

At the start of every season, Myra and I start the arduous task of compiling our class list for the next semester. She spends a good deal of time researching what the latest trends are, including color forecasts, techniques, and patterns. Then comes the almost impossible job of finding the right teachers to teach the class. We get their commitment, spend the money to print the list, send it to 2000 customers, and then wait and see.

For the winter class list, we came up with the idea of having once a month demonstrations of all of the latest techniques. Some of the demos are for the Skacel artfelt felting technique, using the knitter's loom, triangle loom, dyeing self stripping yarn, inkle loom weaving, variety of cast ons, cables, crochet, the list goes on. Watch for the new class list next month.

Ongoing classes include the Wrap Me Up shawl, a beautiful, twenty block project that continues to delight our customers, weekly weaving classes, and knit alongs. The knit alongs will be announced with the new class list.

The Great American Afghan is going to be an ongoing class, as well. The Cascade sales representative came by the store last week, (one of three reps we saw!), and we bought all the shades of yarn we need for the afghan. Remembering that we already had 78 colors, a huge selection by all counts, we ordered another 15!!!!

Over the next several days, I'll be posting more about what we bought last week. The giddy feeling from spending all of that money persists!!!!

We bought a TON of sock yarn. Oh, I can't even remember everything, except that there is a lot of silk blends coming in, a new line from Plymouth that is sure to send everyone into a tizzy, and some really beautiful stuff from both Cascade and Skacel. Not to mention the Addi Lace needles in bigger sizes.

If I don't get back here before Thursday, Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Woolbearers!!!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Joanna visited her aunt in Belgium this week. She knitted the pi shawl of Woolbearers Herbal Tea fingering weight, dyed by Myra. She says her aunt loves the shawl. "Woolbearers travels the world!"

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Knit Away!

Here's a sampling of customer projects both finished and in progress. Because I forgot, once again, how to get pictures and text aligned, I will have to write several posts to load all the pictures.

Jill's Wrap Me Up shawl is finished! She did a beautiful job. Seeing Jill and her daughter, Kristen every week is a pleasure for us. Now that the wraps are done, we hope they will continue to come back to knit.

The three spinners, on the top picture, Debbie, Marie and Lisa, were quick learners who brought great joy to my day! They inspired and encouraged. Thank you, ladies!

The rest of the pictures cover several months of getting to visit with fun, bright and talented gals. Gwen, Jane, Kelly, Elda, Sabra and Jo's knitting, and Anne's weaving follows.
These lovely hats of Kelly's are the results of a few days of wild knitting.