Saturday, August 27, 2011

Miss Marple and Knitted Lace

Knitting before breakfast?

That is the opening line in Miss Marple: Caribbean Mystery.  Miss Marple is on holiday at a Caribbean resort, and some saucy broad comes waltzing past and sees Miss Marple knitting, and asks her "Knitting before breakfast?" I couldn't figure out what she was knitting; at one point it shows her looking at the pattern, and it says "Diddle Dumpling".  I kept pausing to see if I could figure out what it is, but the picture was too blurry.  But wouldn't you know it, I am not the only one curious!  I came across this while in search of the pattern.  Interesting!  There are also a few scenes in which she wears a beautifully delicate, lacy shawl.   I'd sure like to have that pattern!!

I rather enjoyed watching this, and plan to watch some more just to see what Miss Marple has on her needles.  I've heard of Miss Marple before but never read any of Christie's books featuring her.  I don't recall how I came across this, but am glad I did.  (You can rent this from Netflix, or if you are an Prime member, it is available to watch instantly for free.)

PieceWork Magazine had an article titled "What Would Miss Marple Knit" in their September/October 2010 issue.  I will have to go back and read this - I believe I just skimmed it the first time around.   I've poked around the net a bit to see if there are any Miss Marple patterns out there with no luck.  I did find that apparently Jennifer Garner will be playing a younger Miss Marple - in which the knitting does not play a part.  Huh?  Say it ain't so!  I liked seeing the knitting throughout the movie I watched the other day;  perhaps this is when she comes up with the solution to the mystery.  Myself, knitting tends to be a time to reflect and think.  I don't think you can have Miss Marple without knitting.

Moving on, I just received Knitted Lace - A Collection of Favorite Designs from INTERWEAVE.  Yes, these have appeared in the magazine over the years, and aren't new patterns.  However, since it would take forever to search through all of the magazines looking for each pattern, plus since I am missing some of the issues, this book is pretty handy.  Here are a few of the patterns I love:

Oriel Lace Blouse by Shirley Paden from Interweave Knits Summer 2007.  This is knit with Alchemy Yarns Silken Straw (100% silk)

Facing Lilies Stole by Nancy Bush from Interweave Knits Spring 2010.  This is knit with Wooly West Horizons (100% wool)

Apres Surf Hoodie by Connie Chang Chinchio from Interweave Knits Summer 2010.  This is knit with Rowan Cashcotton 4 Ply, which is discontinued according to their site.  Elann has a substitution tool to help you find a suitable replacement if you can't get your hands on any (35% cotton, 25% polyamide, 18% angora, 13% viscose, 9% cashmere)

And my most favorite, Forest Path Stole by Faina Letoutchaia from Interweave Knits Summer 2003.  This is knit with Suri Elegance (100% Suri alpaca).  This is absolutely gorgeous, and I must have it!  Adding this one to my Knit-Q!  If you love lace and entrelac, this is for you too!!

That will wrap it up for now.  I am going to do some work on my shawl.  Until next time, Happy Knitting!

Sunday, August 21, 2011


No, this has nothing to do with the e-reader from Barnes and Noble.  This has to do with knitting and crochet - knitting with a crochet hook, to be exact!  Knooking is not really new, but the first time I was introduced to it was a couple of weeks ago.  I was just browsing around in Wal-Mart, and happened to see a little kit in the craft area.  Obviously I was intrigued, so I bought it.    You can also purchase this from amazon, if you aren't near a Wal-Mart, or perhaps don't like Wal-mart.

Now, I have only played around with this a little bit; I am undecided if I like this and will continue or not.  I am no crocheter, so this is very awkward for me.  Right now I am very slow, but I guess that is the norm with anything new until you get the hang of it.  If you are interested in learning more about Knooking, you can find an instructional video from the Leisure Arts website or YouTube, or their blog, and there is also a Knooking group over on Ravelry.  I am sure they will be able to answer any questions you may have about this technique.

Here is my video if you are interested.  Enjoy!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Slipping the First Stitch

Back when I first started knitting, I kept seeing "Slip the first stitch for a nice, finished edge".  Well, I slipped the first stitch, but didn't see that it made any difference from when I didn't slip the first stitch.  I couldn't figure out what all the fuss was over slipping the first stitch!

One day, when I was just playing around trying to think of something to knit, I figured I'd give slipping that first stitch another whirl.  This time, instead of slipping the stitch with the yarn in the back, I slipped it purlwise, with the yarn in front.  As I continued to knit, I was amazed at the lovely, braided edge I had.  All that time I had been slipping the stitch knitwise.  I could have been saved a lot of frustration had I been told how to slip the first stitch, not just "slip the first stitch".  For some reason, the how is never included in instructions, at least not that I have ever seen.  So, here are some pictures and videos on getting a nice clean edge on your knitting.

Picture A shows the edges of a fabric that have not had the first stitch slipped.  There really isn't anything wrong with this edge, it is just a matter of taste.  If you like the bumpy edge, then don't slip the first stitch.
Pictures B and C show the result of slipping the first stitch; there are several ways to get these edges.  For Picture B, you would :

Slip the first stitch purlwise, with the yarn in front, and knit the last stitch    OR
Slip the first stitch knitwise, with the yarn in the back, and purl the last stitch
Either of these methods will give you the lovely, twisted stitch (or braid as I like to call it) along the edges of your work.  This is my favorite edge.

For Picture C, slipping the first stitch purlwise with the yarn in front, and knitting the last stitch through the back loop will give you an untwisted, open edge.  This is looser than the twisted edge stitches, so may not be appropriate for all projects.  (Which is why swatching is an important step!)

A: Unslipped edge stitches
B: Slipped stitch edge
C: Slipped stitch, open edge

I have also made a video demonstrating each of these methods.  Picture B is a wash cloth I knit, and all edges are the same, including the cast on and bind off.  To achieve this lovely border, in addition to slipping the first stitch, you will do the crochet cast on - this matches the standard knit bind off.  Below are the videos of slipping stitches, and the Crochet Cast On.  (And just a side note regarding this cast on - if you were to use waste yarn instead of a needle, this would give you a provisional cast on, in which the waste yarn would be removed at some point leaving you with live stitches.  I have never utilized a provisional cast on because I am scared of having live stitches hanging around.  I plan on overcoming this fear soon, and will post more on provisional cast ons and their uses as I learn about them.) In addition to creating a nice, neat edge, slipping the first stitch is immensely helpful if you will be picking up stitches along the edge, or sewing pieces of fabric together!  I hope this has been helpful.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Yarn Sales and More

Before getting to the yarn, I wanted to let you all know of a contest being held by my sponsor, Pocket Full of Sunshine.  You can buy soap, lotion, and now jewelry.  You can find details about the contest HERE.  You can choose any item from her shop for FREE.  Visit the Facebook page for details.  Also please be sure to visit her Artfire Shop for all of her great items currently for sale.

And now, on to the sale info.  I always like to check out the sale and closeout items from my favorite shops for great deals on my favorite yarns.  Below are a few of the deals you can find right now.  Hurry, don't miss out!

From the End of Summer sale at WEBS:
Araucania Azapa is only $7.69 a hank - this is the yarn I have been raving about for a while now.  Highly recommended yarn!

Manos del Uruguay Cotton Stria is $3.79 a hank

Berroco Pure Merino is $3.59 a ball

From Jimmy Beans:

Crystal Palace Cotton Chenille is $3.38

Crystal Palace Kaya is $3.11 (I got some of this in Cinnamon to make a Ruana)

Ella Rae Country Tweeds is $4.50

Ester Bitran Hand Dyes Pichasca is $6.30

Happy Knitting!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Progress Update: Handsome Shawl

I've finally finished up the first set of repeats for this shawl, from Victorian Lace Today, and have started on the second set.  I am so excited!  While I think it is beautiful now, apparently lace really isn't beautiful until it has been blocked.  I love this pattern, the yarn (Handmaiden Sea Silk in Pumpkin) and am starting to not be intimidated by lace.  Not to toot my own horn too loudly since this isn't done yet and there is still time for mistakes, but I am proud of myself for making it this far without having to frog.  So here are some pictures of my progress.  Sorry, they aren't too good.  I am no photographer like my sis, whose beautiful work can be found on her site, Photography by Leah Richardson.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Space Bags - Yarn Storage

I'm sure you've probably heard me talking about how great Space Bags are for storing yarn.  Not only do they keep your wool safe from moths, but they also squish down the yarn a good bit, leaving you with more room.  These pictures aren't the best, but you can see before and after some of my stash I was cleaning up yesterday.  This particular bag is made for placing into one of those plastic tubs (like Rubbermaid); I usually use the bags that become more flat after vacuuming.

Before vacuuming

After vacuuming

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Stash and Burn

No, I am not burning my stash, just giving a great deal of thought to my knitting habits.  In the past, my yarn purchases have been made with little or no thought as to what I was going to actually make with the yarn.  I simply wanted it because it was pretty, soft, squishy and wonderful.  I would buy 6-8 skeins of yarn, and say to myself "This should be enough for what I might make", or "Wouldn't this make a nice shawl/sweater/vest, whatever".  Of course, when I pulled out those 6 or so skeins of yarn and began looking through pattern books, I either didn't have enough yarn, or the yarn I wanted to use wasn't really the right weight or fiber.  Yes, many substitutions can be made in patterns provided the correct gauge can be achieved.  But, some stitches simply look better in a silk lace weight yarn than they do in Caron Simply Soft, period.
As a result of this willy-nilly purchasing, I now have a great deal of yarn that I don't know what to do with.  More recently, I have made an effort to either purchase a suggested pattern for the yarn I want, or have one chosen from one of the many books I have.  This has cut down a great deal on the amount of incoming yarn.  My problem now is, working on one (or two at the most) projects at a time and finishing them before starting any more.
You may have heard me say before that I like small projects that aren't too complicated.  Large projects with cables or lace tend to get to me after a while, and I feel that little progress is being made because it takes so dang long to finish; so I set them aside and start something else that interests me.  And on and on.  I have many unfinished items lying around, stuck in this bag or that, and I have long since forgotten which line of the pattern I have left off on.  I will most likely just frog the majority of them.
Right now, I have 3 big projects that I intend to finish before ordering more yarn or starting anything new.  These are my Handsome Shawl from Victorian Lace Today, the very large beast of an afghan I started about a month ago, and the sweater I am knitting in the round using EZ's percentage method.  I've mentioned these things before several times, so those of you who are regulars will know what I am talking about.   It is my goal to have all of these completed by the end of the year, and I will not allow myself to start any new projects or order any more yarn - after I receive the back ordered stuff from Jimmy Beans and Paradise Fibers.... ahem... - until these 3 are done, blocked, and being used.  
I am tired of having nothing to show for all the money spent on gorgeous yarns, and money spent on pattern books and stitch libraries; I would love to utilize the many techniques I see in the books I have.  What is the point of having so many books that I don't even use?  There is no point.  I want to be a better knitter, and in order to be that, I need to choose a pattern, begin the project, and finish it.  I believe this will not only make me a better knitter, but a happier knitter.   I would also like to have more to share with all of you who read my blog and watch my videos than the latest magazines or books I have purchased.
And so, with all of that being said, I am going to go and work on one of the above mentioned projects.  I usually post a progress picture on my facebook page, so be sure to check there.  Until next time, Happy Knitting!