March 30, 2015

A Few Of My Favorite Things - Part 2

My last post was about some of my favorite tools that I keep in my pencil case - I thought I'd show you the case - it is clear which lets me see what is in there so I can find things quickly.  Here are the front and back views:

You can see a highlighter (great for printed out patterns but more on that later as I've gone digital), some needle sizers, a Chibi case of assorted needles, Eucerin for my hands and a few balls of scrap yarn.  I always have that in my case as you never know when you need to put your stitches on waste yarn.  I always tell people when they ask if they can take needles on a plane to have waste yarn and a tapestry needle just in case someone hasn't gotten the memo about needles being okay on a plane.  This way you may lose your needles but you won't lose your knitting!

This view shows from left to right a tape measure, a holder for post it notes (my sister gave me this a while back it is made by Lantern Moon and I love it) and try it on tubing which I spoke about in the last post.

I also found these wonderful stacking tubes at the Container Store - I have all my stitch markers in them.  Like the pencil case, it is clear so I can see exactly which section I need to access.  I  sort them by size and on the very bottom I have locking stitch markers.

Speaking of locking stitch markers, they are a must for knitting.  I use them to mark the right side of a project - especially at the beginning when you aren't sure if it is the right or wrong side which happens in garter or some other stitch patterns.  I also use them when I am knitting two sleeves or two cardigan fronts at the same time - by connecting the two with a stitch marker you won't be tempted to turn your work before completing the work on the second sleeve or front ending up with lopsided work.

My most recent valuable tool is on my iPad.  Goodreader is an app that allows you to download your knitting patterns.  You can then annotate the pattern to highlight the size you are working on (hence no need for my old highlighter).  You can also type notes on the pattern, mark it up with drawings and notes.  I LOVE this app and have stored many patterns this way - you can save your annotated patterns with all the notes in case you want to knit another item using all the info.  I love it so much I've taught several classes at my LYS on how to use it and I must admit I am constantly finding new ways to use it (just like Ravelry).

I am sure there are many more tools I could talk about but would love to hear from you if you feel I've left anything out or if you want to share your favorite tool.  We knitters have to stick together and by sharing our tools we help each other out.

March 28, 2015

A Few of My Favorite Things - Part 1

When I am knitting or teaching a class, I always have my zippered pencil case with all my helpful tools with me.  Over time some things in it have proved helpful and some have proved invaluable.

Recently I had a woman take my class because she was having problems with some quilt blocks which are basically knit and purl patterns.  I quickly shared two of my favorite tools and it changed her life - a row counter and post it notes.  I showed her how the row counter will keep her honest and by using a post it note on the pattern she can guide her eye to the row she is working on very easily.  From the look on her face you would have thought I was the Einstein of knitting...a total "aha" moment for her.

So this prompted me to share with you a few of my favorite tools I use daily:

Clover Row Counter - also known as the Mini Kacha Kacha.  I prefer this one to the red one as it has a lock on it (little fingers and even teenage fingers like to play with these things).  It also has a little hole where you can thread through a string and attach it to your project or even better if you have several floating around you run some of the yarn that is for the project it is used for and it will let you know which one goes with which project.

Susan Bates Handi Tool - this one is a newer addition to my bag of tricks.  If I encounter a stitch I've dropped just the row before, I don't use this tool as it is an easy fix.  BUT if I have to drop down several rows (and do something wild like rework a 4 stitch cable), then this tool is a lifesaver.

Chibi Needles are a must - I have all of them but recently purchased this set and find they are the ones I reach for the most.  The bent tips let you grab stitches and really are helpful when doing the mattress stitch.  I have also been using them while weaving - they are great for hemstitching!

Try It On Tubing - I've talked about this stuff rocks when you are doing a seamless knit and want to try it on.  I've also used it for hats that I'm knitting on a 16" circular and want to try on.  It is available here.  Don't get the 1 yard - go for the 2 yard and get both sizes.

Clover Triangle Stitch Markers - For years I used the round stitch markers and when I started working at my LYS I discovered these triangle shaped ones.  They are wonderful!  They come in all sizes but I mostly have the pink and green ones for size 6-8 needles.  Stitch markers not only mark the beginning of a round but I also use them as reminders for my fingers that I need to do something different. For example when I was making my son's blanket, I had one at each section so I could remind myself to look down and do what stitch was necessary.  I also put them where increases need to happen on a shawl center stitch or if I have a border stitch section they are used there.

I have more tools I want to share with you - stay tuned!

March 20, 2015

Field Trip

When I finished my placemats, I asked Debbie (the owner of the LYS where I work) where she gets her cotton for weaving.  She told me about Pasa Yarns in Uxbridge.  She gave me fair warning their hours are not regular so I should call and ask first.

I called Pasa Yarns and asked the man who answered the phone what the hours were for Thursday (yesterday).  His answer was "our hours are when I am here".  I laughed and he said around 9-4 or 5 but he runs out for the mail around 10am.

So yesterday I printed out directions (I have a not so smart phone and my GPS is from the previous century I think) and headed to Uxbridge.  I drove through the town of Milford which had some charming buildings - I loved their town hall.  The sun was glistening off the dome - here are some pictures I found of it.

Then after a bit I hit Uxbridge and had to guess at a few turns as the streets were not marked.  I came across the Pasa Yarns building which is in an old mill.

When Debbie told me it was a yarn store I expected a traditional yarn store with the addition of cones of cotton available.  As I walked up the creaky old stairs of a building (I asked and learned was rebuilt after a fire in 1844), I began to suspect this was not what I expected.  Here's what I saw when I entered.  Nope,  this was not your average yarn shopping expedition.

There was a woman working in the back of the room - she was operating this skein winding matching.  I was totally fascinated.  Poor thing had rough, raw hands from the particular fiber she was winding that day - we decided it was the metallic thread running through it.

After rummaging around and consulting with the owner on the correct weight for my placemats, I picked out 6 cones.  The cost was $3/lb...I had 7lbs...I paid $21.75 for all this yarn!  What a productive field trip!

I can't wait to warp my loom!

March 17, 2015

Sometimes I Feel So Clever

My loom was sitting in the corner calling to me so I pulled it out and warped it with some Classic Elite Seedling I had intended for placemats.  I put in some stripes on the warp which I then also did on the weft.

I purchased a rotary cutter so the fringe would be even and straight (40% off at JoAnn Fabrics too!).

Here they are in their glory - I am feeling very clever and so proud of my new skill of hemstitching.  I need to make more of these.  This set is for my parents who are treating me to a trip to visit them next month.

March 14, 2015

One of the Perks

When you work in a yarn store, there are certain perks...working with fibery goodness, seeing yarns as they come out, etc.  This month's perk has been on my calendar for ages - Norah Gaughan is doing a farewell tour with her 16th Berroco book and sweater samples.  I was asked if I would like to work the night she was visiting my LYS - silly question, of course I would (and I had marked the date on my calendar ages ago).

It was a fun evening and we had a chance to chat before the doors opened to customers (and fans).  On my way to the store I called my knitting sister and told her she was the only one in our family who would understand the import of the evening...she got it.  I considered going all "fan girl" and bringing in my Norah Gaughan Volumes 1 and 3 (3 is the best!) and Knitting Nature but held back and decided to just enjoy meeting her.

Norah was talking about how her Kaari pattern that was free for a limited time went viral (even though it was from Volume 1 and had been out for ages).  This lead to my telling her about my Boxing Day Mittens experiment.

I had the chance to peruse the Vol 16 collection which was in a range of blues.  One of the items I thought was a capelet - turns out it was a skirt.  Another woman thought the same thing and put it on that way - guess what?  It is an amazing capelet and creative minds were flying on what yarns to use, how to make it a bit bigger, etc.  I'm now thinking I need to design a capelet.

A few photos from the night - the one of the two ladies smiling for the camera is Andra Asars (our Berroco rep) with Norah.  Andra is amazing - she is full of energy, creativity and a passion for her job.

March 10, 2015

Bellini Cowl

After a bit of working (and ripping out), I finished the cowl that uses both Classic Elite Sanibel and Santorini.  I went through my usual name struggle and was giving it the working name of Two Sans Cowl (SANibel and SANtorini).  Then I called it the SanSan Cowl for two minutes.  Finally, I focused on the end of each name SaniBEL and SantorINI and named it Bellini Cowl.

This photo isn't the greatest (iPad) but it gives you an idea of how it looks with the solid and variegated yarns.  I decided since it was a collaboration and adaptation that I wouldn't put it for sale on Ravelry.  Instead, it is at my LYS as a pattern you get when you purchase the yarn.

Yesterday I cast on a new design for the Greater Boston Yarn Crawl - I've been asked to do a shawl for the crawl.  I'm using Malabrigo Sock and having a wonderful time.

March 6, 2015

New Yarn - New Ideas

This past Tuesday while I was working at my LYS, a box of Classic Elite yarns came into the store.  In it was a new yarn called Santorini.  It's basically a variegated version of Sanibel.  One of the more popular patterns at the store is a free one using 2 skeins of Sanibel.

So the LYS owner, Debbie, and I got to thinking of how to use this new yarn and Sanibel to create another cowl.

We picked these colors and I went home and started knitting.

I have a finished product I'm calling Two Sans Cowl (SANibel and SANtorini).  I have to run it by Debbie and we'll discuss if it is a free pattern or not.  I love new yarns leading to new ideas.