Friday, August 31, 2012

Backup Plan

A well-equipped knitting bag should have more than just one project. Yesterday I was on the go with a couple of stops that included knitting time.  I was looking forward to working on a particular project, so when I reached my first destination I pulled it out of my bag.  Next I retrieved the pattern only to discover that I was missing a page - the page I was working on.   I looked at the pages I did have in an effort to conjure up the missing page but soon realized there was no way I could piece it together.  

After I got over my initial panic, I decided to dig deeper in my bag. Now I haven't thoroughly gone through the bag in quite a while and it's in need of a good dumping, so I didn't have a sense of everything that was in it.  After sifting and sorting through a layer of receipts, odd bits of yarn and a couple of random knitting needles, I struck gold.

A hat in progress.  I was overjoyed 

This hat is a sample for a class I'm teaching this fall.  It isn't a high priority project, but it does need to be finished so I knit away.

I worked on it  off and on throughout the day and into the evening as I made my various stops.

By the end of the evening it was finished.

You can find this free pattern here.  The yarn is Cascade 220 Superwash Paints, color 9997.  Now I'll have to add another backup project to my bag.  You never know when the next knitting emergency will strike.

My color inspiration for the week comes from the back side of a ranger station.  This entrance doesn't get much use and has a deserted air about it.

Ivy green and weathered gray.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Caution Is The Word

Today is Progress Report Wednesday.  Sharktooth is moving right along.  This project still travels well so in the last few days it's been to the beach, a couple of appointments and knit night.

I'm about to start the final section which means that in just a few rows I'll be embarking on the border.  I'm trying to be cautious and haven't pulled out my blocking wires and pins just yet.  I have a sneaking suspicion that this is going to be one of those endless, time-consuming borders that requires half again as much time as I've already put into the project.

But when I'm not being cautious, I'm plotting my next project.  I've had a few weak moments - moments when I could easily "just cast on" for the next project.  Trust me.  No project stops with just casting on. The only thing keeping me from casting on?  I have to dye the yarn first. So today I'm going to dye that yarn.  Just in case.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Keeping Pace

August is winding down, and I'm making a run at a list of summer activities before the season shifts.

A trip to the beach was at the top of the list.

Harbor Islands in the distance.

Sea gulls perched on the railing.

Beach knitting.  It was purely coincidence that I grabbed Sharktooth on my way out the door.

Next on the list was a baseball game.

No summer is complete without at least one trip to Fenway.

A ball game is a perfect excuse for knitting time.

Nothing too elaborate.  Simple stockinette so that I could keep an eye on the game and my knitting.

And it's not over yet.  With more summerlike weather in the forecast, a return trip to the beach is a real possibility.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Knit And Tidy

Every once in a while I take time to tidy up my in progress knitting projects.  It's my no knitting left behind campaign.  Sometimes I set aside a project because something more important comes up.  A knitting emergency like a baby sweater for a shower.  Sometimes I set aside a project because I need a break from it.  While I have every intention of getting back to it in a day or two, the days turn into weeks turn into . . . well, you know what happens.

For me the biggest hurdle to dealing with these languishing projects is the amount of time it takes to figure out where I am in the pattern.  I keep notes, but it takes a while to orient myself to the project again.  It takes time to get back in the groove.  Once I'm on track, I can't understand why it took me so long to pick up the project again.

The other day I surveyed my projects on the needles, and I don't have many stragglers.  I've been very diligent about seeing projects through to completion.

All except for Catkin.  I don't remember any more how this one fell out of the rotation.  I think it had something to do with a busy travel schedule.  I hadn't completely forgotten about it, but it's been on the back burner slowly simmering.  

The other day I decided to give Catkin some attention.  Not my undivided attention, mind you, because then something else will fall by the wayside.  I've been knitting Catkin a little bit every day - some days more than others.  It's not difficult or tedious, but it's not a good traveling project.  Right now that's its only limitation.  After a handful of rows this section will be finished, and I'll move on to the final chart. The momentum is building.

Morning glories - now you see them, now you don't.  Morning glory vines creep and crawl and make them a good choice for plant bombing. My color inspiration for the week.

Pink and purple peeking through green.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

One Thing Leads To Another

I've made a commitment to a new yarn base and am considering colors and samples.  The priority is to get a booth sample on the needles so that's the colorway that has my immediate attention.

I had a colorway in mind.

I was quite certain this would be the one.

But since I was sampling colors, I dyed up a few different ones.  It never hurts to ponder a few color options.

Color cousins.

All of which led me to this.

I didn't think I was headed in this direction, but I might like this one the best.

Before I make a final decision, I'm going to knit some swatches.  Just to make sure.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Group Effort

This past Saturday I led a dyeing workshop for a fearless group of fiber enthusiasts.  It was a fun-filled day exploring color and handpainted yarn.  Follow along for a peek at the process.

We started out small.

Experimenting with primary colors on tiny yarn samples.

After people were comfortable with the technique of applying dye and had mixed and matched a few colors, we moved on to the real thing.

Full-size skeins.  Karen decided to go from dark to light, from the outside of the skein to the inside.  She had some beautiful shades of blue moving through her skein.

This was another approach.

Segments of color moving around the skein.

And a variation on that theme.

Chartreuse was popular.

It made an appearance on several skeins.

Caitlin's special project.

This is two of three yarn segments all connected.  Caitlin has a master plan, and I hope she shares photos of the finished project.

Next up - finishing.

Packets of yarn lined up for steaming, cooling and rinsing.  The group produced a wide range of beautiful colors from subtle to bold.  

Great company, wonderful food, gorgeous colors.

Workshop success.

Friday, August 17, 2012


I have a new knitting project in the works but not without a fair amount of debate.  Usually I don't dither too much about starting a new project. What's the worst that can happen?  It doesn't work, I rip it out and start a new project.  That's one of the beauties of knitting. It's not like I've cut fabric into pieces, sewn a seam or two and then decide the project isn't going to work.  Knitting is much more forgiving.

I had looked at this pattern a while ago.  I considered it, put it on my "maybe" list and forgot about it.  When I need a new project, I usually consult my list.  Make that lists.  After a recent Ravelry binge my original list has mushroomed into three.

When I flipped through the lists, Sharktooth caught my eye and I decided to go with it.  I've made several Stephen West designs so I knew Sharktooth would be an entertaining, well-constructed project. You can see the first two teeth have emerged along the bottom.

But the debate didn't stop with the pattern selection.  I contemplated several different colorways and finally tossed caution to the wind.  I let my daughter pick the color.  She chose Lillian Yogi Bear in case you're wondering.  

Once I had started knitting the debate continued with the yarn overs. Did they look funny?  Were they wonky on one side? After ripping out, starting over and tweaking more than once I finally decided that they were right in the first place.  Sometimes I overthink things.

Normally all this indecision doesn't bode well for a project, but I'm feeling better now.  I've cleared up all the issues, settled into a groove and am about to cut two more teeth.  My optimistic self has me convinced that it's smooth sailing ahead.

For a couple of weeks I've been watching this volunteer plant material in one of my pots.  This small, fragile plant has given me a couple of color ideas and is my color inspiration for the week.

Delicate green tinged with white.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Without A Plan

Some days it doesn't pay to have a plan.  This morning I was going to take a few photos outside, but the dark, wet conditions just won't cut it.  Today Mother Nature's plans don't coincide with mine.  I'll save those shots for another day and instead share a little bit of . . . 


~ The good news.  A couple more yarn stores have started carrying yarn from Dirty Water DyeWorks.  The website list has been updated. Be sure to check it out and remember to buy local.  Don't take your local yarn store for granted.

~ The not-so-good news.  I had to raise prices on several of the yarn lines - Bertha, Lillian, Lucia and Marie.  The cost of materials has been going up and up.  I was able to absorb the initial increases, but with the latest wave I had to adjust prices.  I anticipate the other lines will hold steady for the time being.

~ "The Sheep Are Like Our Parents."  If you're looking for a rugged, hands-on experience, consider a working vacation with a Navajo shepherdess.  Spend time herding sheep in the mountains of the Southwest and get a taste of contemporary Navajo life.  Off the grid with a herd of sheep . . . I could be tempted.

Monday, August 13, 2012


Knitting garter stitch can be so relaxing and meditative.  I couldn't get enough of it over the weekend.  

Scalene.  Zen knitting.

This design is delightfully simple yet entertaining.  It also includes a unique keyhole feature.

Stitches are set aside at the bottom of the stripe.  Stitches are bound off at the top of the stripe.

The stitches that were set aside are then worked to create a flap.

This flap is the same size as the stripe.  The flap stitches are joined into the work at the top of the stripe to replace the bound off stitches. 

This flap creates a keyhole that has vertical access.

The wrong side.

And horizontal access.

The right side.  Very clever.

The yarn is Dirty Water DyeWorks Bertha.

Colorways Chocolate Raspberry and Dahlia.

This blend has a bit of cashmere and is wonderfully soft for next-to-skin wear.

Scalene is a fun way to experiment with different color combinations. With so many options it's tempting to knit more than one.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Of Leaves And Things

Last week I had an itch to start a new pair of socks but promised myself that first I would finish the pair in progress.  Sometimes I need a little extra incentive to get projects off the needles.

Embossed Leaves.

I made this pattern a few years ago. 

I enjoyed it as much this time around as I did the first time.  An entertaining 16-round repeat creates these detailed, cushy leaves.

The yarn is Dirty Water DyeWorks Lillian.

The colorway is Ribbit - a scrumptious green with hints of yellow.

Ribbit has just been added to the Lillian line along with Moon Shadow. A few additional colorways will debut in the coming weeks.

Sometimes a grouping of colors will catch my eye.  This progression is my color inspiration for the week.

Blueberries from start to finish.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Trial Run

One of the perks of being an indie dyer is that I'm always getting new yarn samples.  New bases, new blends . . . it's always fun to consider the options.  Deciding which (if any) new yarns to introduce can be a challenge.

Part of the process involves testing.

I've had a skein of this new base kicking around for a while.

I've been thinking of adding this yarn, but it's been a low priority.  The only decision I had made was that I was undecided.  The other day I was dyeing, and the lonely skein caught my eye.  

I was already in deep with dyeing - one more pot wasn't going to make a difference.

The next step was to knit up a sample.

I can't say that I've made any decisions, but I do like the way this feels.  I'll play around with the swatch some more before reaching a verdict.  It's all part of the process.

Monday, August 6, 2012


Last Friday when I was plotting out my weekend I scheduled in some knitting time.  I had visions of sleeves finished off with a few rows of cable.  With any luck I would even have a completed project.  But it wasn't meant to be.  Extreme heat and humidity made me wilt at the thought of a lap full of wool.

But I wasn't about to surrender that block of knitting time.  Instead I made a slight adjustment.

Scalene to the rescue.  I hovered in front of the fan and knit well into the middle stripe section.  Garter stitch was the perfect knitting solution for uncomfortable weather conditions.

And the perfect coffee solution . . . 

Frosty with a thin layer of ice.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Short And Sweet

One of the things that fascinates me about knitting is that there's more than one way to achieve the same result.  Cast on, bind off, increase, decrease - there are many ways to do all of these things.  Not just one or two ways.  Many.

Imagine my delight when I stumbled across another way to work short rows - the German short row.  I've been working short rows using the wrap and turn method, and it works just fine.  But maybe I was missing out on something.  Maybe I would like German short rows better.  

There was only one way to find out.  I worked a sample.  Follow along and see how it's done.

Knit to the point where you want to add the short row.

Turn the work to the other side.

Slip the first stitch as if to purl.

The stitch with the working yarn is now on the right hand needle.

Pull the yarn tail across the top of the needle and to the back.  This will create a double stranded-looking stitch.

Pull yarn down and to the front between the two needles.

Yarn is now in position to purl.  Purl across the row.

This method creates odd looking stitches.

The purl side.

The knit side.

Repeat these steps for additional short rows.  After you've added all your short rows, knit across the entire row.

When you come to the odd stitches, they will look like this.

Insert right hand needle tip through both strands.

Work the strands like a knit 2 together.

The German short row feels more efficient than the wrap and turn method and is hardly noticeable on the finished fabric.

Very clever.  

It just so happens I'm planning to work up a new booth sample that uses short rows.  I'll have to give the German short row a try.  If you want to see this technique demonstrated, both knitting and purling videos are available.

It's that time of year . . . time for our annual blueberry picking.  My color inspiration for the week.

Savoring the blues.