At the end of last month, I had the delightful experience of being among fiber friends at our SKG Fall Retreat. Amid the conversations and laughter there was an abundance of color as people shared their finished projects and works in progress. I finished two projects that had been on the needles for quite some time – a pair of socks and a pair of mitts! It was my first time working socks on one long circular needle and although I finished them this way, I decided I prefer to work with double pointed needles. It is fascinating to me that there are so many ways to knit and tools available to do so, and I am thankful for the options. I also had time to spin, which was so wonderful!
Your guild Board members are working diligently to plan out the months ahead. We have several activities posted on our website and the Facebook page. Our November meeting will be about quick, last minute projects that can be made for holiday gifts (or to treat yourself!) If you have some ideas to share, please bring them to the meeting – we’d love to see your finished projects or photos, or perhaps a favorite pattern that you like to use. In December, we’ll have our Holiday Potluck Party and gift exchange
and will give you more information about the Mini Retreat in January
. You can mark your calendars now for January 18th!!!
I hope you are keeping warm as we watch the cold weather and fog settle in. This would be a great time to practice working with those silk hankies that Barbara Seeler taught us about at last month’s meeting! Did you know that when knit or crocheted tightly, silk can be four times warmer than wool? It’s the time of year for comfort food and hot drinks… Wood stoves and candlelight… Cozy mitts and fair isle hats… Enjoy!!!
Wishing you a good balance of relaxation and productivity.
Katie Kent ~ SKG President
Have you always wanted to knit socks but thought it seemed too daunting a task? Do you have one started - only to get stuck? Now's your chance to get some help. I'll have a sock "help" table going on after the break at our guild meetings the next few times.
To get started, I suggest you get some needles, usually size 2 or 3, either double-pointed (DPNs) or a nice 32" circular needle (for Magic Loop) and some fingering (sock) weight yarn in a light color - very dark yarn can make it hard to see your stitches. You'll need about 400 yards to make a pair of socks, so check the yardage -some yarns come with enough to make a pair, others you'll need to buy two skeins. Washable is a very good quality in a sock yarn (that's a hint).
If you're comfortable doing so, cast on 72 stitches. I prefer a cable cast-on, but you can use any kind you like, as long as it can stretch. You'll be knitting in the round, so next, join without twisting. If you need help with joining, bring your work in and we'll get you started.
Begin working a ribbing pattern of your choice: K2, P2 is a nice basic one, but you can also do K1, P1, or K3, P1, or K2, P1, your choice. Any of those will work if you have cast on 72 stitches. You want to knit about an inch of this ribbing. When you're happy with your ribbing length, go ahead and begin straight stockinette knitting around for this first sock. If you just have to get fancy, go with a lace or cable pattern of your choice, or just continue ribbing (I often knit a whole sock in K3, P1 ribbing). Knit it until it measures the length of your hand from your wrist to the tip of your longest finger. Now you're ready for the heel. Bring it to the help table and we'll get started on the heel flap. See you soon!
If you'd like a good book about sock knitting, get a copy of The Sock Knitter's Handbook
(available in print and as a downloadable PDF) from Martingale Press
ῲ If you are doing color work with stranding or slip stitches and have trouble keeping the threads being carried over on the wrong side loose enough, hold one or two of your left hand fingers between the knitting and the stranding when you are forming a stitch with the contrast color that is going across more than 2 or 3 stitches in the back. That much extra is usually just enough to allow for the stretch of stockinette stitch and keep it from pulling too tight. Eventually you may be able to skip this step as you get used to the looser tension.
ῲ If you are making a shawl, scarf, or any lacework that will be stretched in blocking and has a knit in the front and back increase, consider doing a knit and purl in the same stitch instead. It is a bit more elastic and the purl bump is not much different from the bump you get with Kf&b. In any case, it is useful to be familiar with many types of increases so you choose what looks and functions best for the project you are working on.
ῲ Use spare circular needles as stitch holders. This is useful when instructions call for moving stitches to waste yarn because it is quicker to transfer them back again onto the real needle when needed. And it can help if you want to try on something in progress, even if it is being knit on dpns.
ῲ Sock patterns worked cuff down often call for decreases every other round at the toe. Try doing that until your stitches are decreased by half and then decrease every round until they are halved again, then do the grafting/kitchener stitch. The result is a really well fitting sock.
ῲ To get a snug fitting wrist for mitts, use a smaller needle size for the ribbing and consider adding a cable twist, even if it is only twisted in one or two rows. The twist will pull in the wrist part just enough to ensure they are loose around the wrist after being pulled on and off in
ῲ When picking a pattern to knit, think function and scrutinize photos on Ravelry. Too often photographs show a sweater hanging up, shawls laid out, and socks on a sock blocker. This does not tell you at all how what those finished objects look like when worn or whether they will work on the body that you want to make them for.
ῲ This website shows the most common kinds of increases very clearly, though not k and p into the same stitch: http://www.knitty.com/ISSUEwinter09/FEATwin09TT.php
~Aleen Caplan-Yamasaki, Vice President
Last night at the August Guild meeting, Barb and Aleen treated us to a short tutorial on short rows. Barb showed us the method that Cat Borhdi uses on her Sweet Tomato Heel, and demonstrates in this YouTube video
. You do need to be patient, since she works through the entire heel in this video, but it really shows how she picks up the 'mother' stitch and knits it together with the 'daughter' stitch, resulting in a hole-less no wraps short row heel.
Aleen shared with us her recommendations for short rows and we looked over will have some demos and discussions of short rows. To supplement what we’ll cover during the meeting, I highly recommend TECHknitting's blog
, She very clearly demonstrates (with graphics) some of the differences between different methods as well as where each technique might be used best. Aleen also shared some additional techniques in this month's newsletter; "To supplement what we’ll cover during the meeting, I highly recommend a blog post on Short Rows on Tech Knitting, one of the most complete sources of short row methods with the clearest diagrams. You will probably want to bookmark it for future reference. It not only gives details and summarizes in two different ways (regular and geek), it also says which method is best for a particular situation (stitch used or personality type as the case may be). Another great source for tips in general is the Jimmy Beans Wool website. I have never ordered anything from them but went to the website when I saw a tip listed in an ad in a knitting magazine. In this column in the past, I have mentioned the use of things like rubber bands and paper clip in a pinch when you don't have your knitting tools with you. Well, the ad tip had the same philosophy. It suggested that a knitter on vacation caught without a point protector could use the cork from the bottle of Merlot they surely must be drinking!" We also had several new members sign up with renewing members, so that they could take advantage of our current "Two for $50" Membership deal. So bring a friend when you renew your membership for the 2012/2013 Membership year (starting in October) and you both can save $5 off your membership fees. Be sure to check out the rules on our Membership page. If you have never been to a meeting and would like to see what it is all about, come to our September meeting. We will be celebrating our birthday, so there will be cake. We will also be talking about holiday gifts for knitters and for knitters to give.
“I heard good news today, I heard good news today, a pussy willow told me ‘Spring is on the way’”. These lines are from an old song I used to sing to my kindergarteners, and it’s so appropriate right now. My attention is bouncing all over the place like a spring rabbit!
My pussy willow trees are in full glory. Today, Groundhog Day, the weatherman said that we’ve got two more hours of daylight. It’s wonderful to see the days slowly beginning to lengthen. I’m still in full winter knitting mode, spinning and knitting wonderful warm items out of alpaca and wool. I’ve been working on improving my spinning technique, and have finally mastered the art of Navajo plying, which is making a 3 ply yarn out of a single strand. It allows the colorways in the yarn to stay together, rather than randomly candy stripe when plied from two or three different bobbins. At this point I have no idea what I’ll end up making with my beautiful new yarn. Right now, I’m content just to enjoy looking at it.
At our recent Board meeting, we did some terrific brainstorming and I think we’ve come up with some great ideas for future guild meetings. We want to tap into the enormous talent pool that exists right within the Guild. I’m looking forward to some hands on workshops, our Destash Sale, a panel discussion, and our next guest speaker, Andrea Wong. I’m looking forward to the rescheduled Yarn Train trip to Portland, to marching with my fellow guild members in the Kla Ha Ya Days Parade, and attending the Mariners annual Stitch ‘n Pitch event. If you have an idea for a program or a workshop, please let us know. We can always use an article for the newsletter; a book review, yarn review, etc. It’s not too early to consider running for a board position in the Fall. Our board is one of the most cooperative and enjoyable groups I’ve ever had the pleasure working with. Think about jumping in and helping out!
Speaking of local knit groups, while I was knitting with mine the other day, it occurred to some of us that we should put up a sign on the table saying “Learn to Knit – Free”, and have a couple of the guild’s free Knit Kits handy for interested bystanders. If you have a regular knit group, think about doing this – it’s a great way to meet new knitters and to further the guild’s mission of providing educational opportunities for the community. You can pick up free Knit Kits at our monthly meetings.
As usual, I just can’t wait to see what you bring to our next Show and Tell!
~Barb, SKG President
As we ring in the new year, I'm looking ahead to all of the knitting possibilities! I've just finished up a big winter project (you'll see it at our next Show and Tell), and am in that space of planning my next project. This does not include the everyday "carry-in-your-purse" sock project that I usually have on hand. I have a number of UFO's sitting around, and this year I'd like to work on finishing a few of them. I'm almost done with my linen stitch scarf, it's living in the bottom of a bag somewhere. And then there's the very complicated lace-on-both-sides shawl using laceweight yarn which I'd hoped to finish for last summer's Fair, and yet another lace shawl using cobweb yarn ( just shoot me if you ever see me picking up another ball of that stuff).
In addition to finishing up my WIP's (works in progress), I'm exploring new possibilities. Will this be the year I make that Great American Afghan? Design another (better) Gansey sweater? Yarn bomb my front porch? Make matching Christmas stockings for everyone? I know that there will be hats and socks and shawls and cowls, those are my standard fall-back projects, but what will the Big One be this year? One thing that I love about our Guild is the inspiration that I get from all of you. I love seeing what you're making. I love learning new little tips and tricks from you.
I'm also looking forward to going on the Yarn Train. Perhaps I'll find my inspiration on the train, or in a Portland yarn shop. I'm looking forward to seeing all of the beautiful fiber choices and finding new knitting accessories I can't live without. If you happen to see me heading toward the cobweb yarn, please steer me toward the bulky weight. You don't even need to be gentle about it.
~Barb, SKG President 2011-2012
We've reached a very busy time of the year. I try to maintain a balance between things I want to do and things that I must do. I've learned to pace myself over the years (one advantage of being a geezer - I've learned lots of coping strategies over the years). I start early and remember to take breaks. I've let go of some of the things I used to do in the spirit of keeping things simple. I've learned that my own expectations for myself were always harsher than others' expectations of me. I've learned that it's not about material things - the house doesn't really need all the holiday decorations we have in storage. Seriously, nobody even remembers or misses the stuff I just gave away! What my family remembers are the times we spend doing things together; a holiday puzzle, playing cards together, decorating while listening to old favorites and guzzling hot cocoa or eggnog, baking and decorating cookies.
My knitting continues to be a pleasure for me. I refuse to let it become a "have to". This is one reason that I rarely knit gifts for people. One or two special folks may receive my handknits at the holidays, but I never pressure myself to knit for everyone I know. I have my friends and family pretty well trained to NOT expect knitted items from me as gifts, so when they do get them, it's usually quite a surprise.
One thing I enjoy during the darkest days of the year is spending time with my friends and family. I'm so looking forward to our Guild's holiday party! Feasting, visiting and having fun with my fellow knitters is one of the highlights of this time of year for me. It's nice that we take the time to gather together. I love seeing all of your beautiful projects, chatting about yarn, patterns, and accessories; perhaps playing a game or two, the gift exchange, and of course, the food! It's important to me to get to be able to spend time with my kindred spirits at this time of year -- people who share my passion for creating beautiful things out of sticks and string. By the way, sticks and string were recently listed as two of the top five best toys of all time, along with cardboard tubes, dirt and boxes.
No matter how busy you are at this time of year, remember to take time to nurture your passion to be creative, and PLAY a little!
~Barb, SKG President
The past few weeks have been filled with lots of fibery goodness for me! I attended the first annual Fiber Fusion Northwest held at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds. It was sponsored by the North Sound Alpaca Association, and it was delightful. They had a nice area set up for spinners, lots of displays, workshops and of course my favorite, the vendors! There were
folks selling all kinds of fiber related items, from raw fiber, beautifully dyed roving and yarn to finished items. There was a man there who was spinning on a great wheel, the kind you must stand to use. There were hourly raffles, and I was lucky enough to win a beautiful 100% alpaca sweater. I attended this event on both days, and am very much looking forward to going again next year.
Then there was our own guild’s 2nd Annual Knitters’ Retreat at Camp Huston in Gold Bar. It was a fun filled weekend with thirty-four wild and wise women, enjoying food, wine and lots of fiber. I loved gathering in our lodge by the fire, chatting, laughing, knitting, laughing, drinking wine, laughing, spinning, and did I mention laughing? All of our meals were included, but that didn’t stop us from making sure that no one went hungry between meals. We enjoyed a huge spread of gourmet treats brought by the participants. You really haven’t lived until you’ve sampled homemade French macarons made by Sherry Toly and April Wilson, who were taught to make them in Paris by a French chef. The lavender and honey ones were my favorite.
Although there were no planned events other than meals, we played games, including one brought by Maureen (Mo) Galbreath called “Last Knitter Standing”. Everyone had to cast on 10 stitches and knit two rows before the game began. We were issued challenges, and if you met the challenge you got to knit a row or two, but if you failed, you had to rip out! Some people had to knit with their eyes closed! I would definitely recommend this game if you have a small knitting group of friends who want something fun to do.
Of course, there were hijinks as well. Saturday evening, Charisa and Mo entered the room with guns a’blazing – foam disc guns. That livened things up even more. Retaliation occurred, in the form of wrapping their pillows (under the pillow cases) with Saran wrap, and placing firewood logs under their mattresses. It really says something that neither of them noticed, and slept like babes.
All in all, the retreat was a rousing success. I came home on a “knitters high”, with deepened friendships, new friendships, and many great memories. A hearty “Thank You” to Charisa, Mo and Marilyn, who made the weekend a special one to remember.
~Barb, SKG President 2012
What an exciting two years it has been! Our guild started as an idea just over two years ago when several of us went to visit the Seattle Knitters Guild. Our knit-sib, Tuulia Salmela, was their featured guest speaker and asked us to come along to give
her moral support. While there, the idea occurred to me, "Why don't we do something like this in Snohomish County?" During the car ride home, we discussed it, Charisa seized upon the idea and ran with it, and here we are today. Without Charisa's "go get 'em" attitude, it might have remained just an idle question. She gave our guild a wonderful start, and set the tone for the dynamic, fun-filled group that we are today.
During those early days, we discussed what kind of guild we wanted to be, and what we didn't want to be. First and foremost, we wanted to have fun. Why bother forming something if it was going to be a drag? We wanted to be inclusive and welcoming. We wanted to encourage knitters of all skill levels to learn and better their skills. We wanted to support our local yarn shops and suppliers. Most of all, we wanted to be a place where knitters could connect with one another and find their own pack of knit-sibs.
I hope that you feel welcome at our meetings and on our Ravelry message boards. I hope that you are able to connect with at least one or two other knitters who feel like "kindred spirits" to you. I hope that you're able to find, if you're interested, a smaller local group of knitters who gather weekly for sociable knitting time. My knit-sibs have become some of my very best friends over the past few years. I look forward to sharing some wild and crazy knitting adventures with you in the coming year.
Let's see what kind of mischief we can get ourselves into this year, shall we?
Barb - SKG President 2011/2012
Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Needlework
Rather than a specific technique, my tip this month is to pick up a specific reference book, out of print but readily available at used bookstores. It is the Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Needlework. It first came out in the late 1970’s and then was revised in the 1980’s. Since then there have been other knitting specific reference books published, but none compare to this.
It has chapters on crochet, tatting, quilting, and more. But even if you only use it for the knitting, it is worth it. It doesn’t have some of the more recent techniques like Mobius or i-cord. But it has the clearest photographs and illustrations. And what it does have that other books don’t, is discussion of when and why one technique might be better than another in any given situation. For example, many basic knitting books give instructions for several different cast on’s. But the Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Needlework not only shows them more clearly, it specifies which is more elastic, which is better to use when firmness is needed, etc.
Have you cringed when you saw the words “provisional cast on” in a pattern? No problem if you have this book on your shelf. One online reviewer I saw recently stated that she had long ago sold or given away her copy, only to re-buy it later because it is so indispensable. Of course you can try amazon.com
. But I would like to suggest your local used bookstores as well as two sites that list the stock of used booksellers across the country, abebooks.com
. I have also had great luck with knitting books from powells.com
. - Aleen Caplan YamasakiIf you have a question or suggestion for Tips & Tricks, please email Aleen.