Loose Ends

Loose Ends

the creative impulse gone awry

Monday, November 29, 2010

A nearly finished item and a wee little tutorial

I'm still cranking out those little pea samples so I can make sure that the pattern is perfect before I pop it onto the ravelry site....  Here's the 12 month size:

All done except for the buttons!  The pattern is coming along nicely and I'm pretty happy with it!

I'd also like to invite you all to our booksigning on Wednesday 6:30pm - 8pm at the shop.  Naomi and I will be signing Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders.  Naomi has two patterns featured in the book and I have one.  I'll be baking something delish and we'll share some cider or champagne and talk knitting!  Come!

Now for a little tutorial... recently Naomi and I have been discussing bringing in another line of looms and spinning wheels and one company also has really nice accessories including nostepinnes.  They are fantastic little doo-dads that help you wind a center-pull ball.  I know a lot of you know how to wind center-pull balls by hand, and some lucky folks have ball-winders and swifts. But there are a lot of things I like about my nostepinne.  I love that it's small, and portable and I can put it away when I need to.  I can tuck it into my knitting bag and therefore I can wind easily whenever I want, where ever I want.  I don't have the space for a ball-winder and swift at my house.  Since I'm only at the store a couple nights a week the one there is of limited use to me.  But I love having center-pull balls and so I've been using my nostepinne a lot these days.

So let's get this thing going.  First, you have to pick your yarn and put it on something to keep your loop from getting all funky.  My first choice is always one of my dining room chairs:

I'm winding up a little madelinetosh tosh sock for a pair of matching socks for the girls.  Colorway: Tomato.  I'm in love, but that's besides the point.  Now, grab your nostepinne and find the little ridge along the top and tie your yarn around it:

It's time to start winding!  Start off in the center of the winding area and wind a nice big chunk of yarn.  You need a bit to get started, but if you do too much the first few pulls from the ball will tangle, so don't go nuts.

You want to wind the yarn at an angle from the bottom of the ball on the nostepinne to the top of the ball.  Each time you wrap, turn the nostepinne towards you so when you wrap your yarn around the next time you are going over a different part of the ball.  The more you turn the nostepinne the more space you have between each wrap.  I don't tend to twist too much each time because that makes the ball taller rather than fatter.  Here's what it looks like just after you've gotten started:

And once you've gotten a good bit on there:

Now if you keep on going like this you'll end up with a ball that looks kind of like a football.  Nothing wrong with that at all, but I was curious if I could get it to look more like the balls that come off the winder at the shop.  So once I liked the length of the ball, I started to change the angle and wind a little more loosely to make the ball start growing outwards while not getting any taller.  I found the most important part of this was to keep my tension loose.  If it started to get tight the threads would slip and the ball would get messy.  Here I am ready to change angle and tension:

And here I am making the ball fat and square instead of long and pointy:

One thing I love about the nostepinne is that I can get my center-pull ball without needing to keep the darn thing attached to my hand all the time.  As you know, I have a couple of adorable babies and life is often not organized enough for me to, say, wind a ball of sock yarn all in one session.  I love that I can do a bit, and set it down when things like this happen:

Then when all is better I can pick it up again and finish what I was doing.  Winding around my thumb just doesn't cut it these days.  When it looks like I'll be putting it away for a long period of time, I can just twist up the remaining part of the skein and put the whole thing in my knitting bag without worrying about it all falling apart or about the kitties throwing yarn raves with the parts left hanging about.

Now that things are all better, we can pop back over and finish winding!

Secure the end of your yarn back in the ball, and un-tie the knot at the top and pull it off the nostepinne:

Voila!  Keep track of that little piece hanging out the top of the ball, that is where you will knit from.  I generally pull out a bit and wrap it around the ball and I'm done!  Which is a good thing because Zoë is trying to climb the stairs again!  Fun!  Hope to see you at the booksigning!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Previews & Patterns

Well, dear readers, what a week!  More sick at casa de Conterio, another cold on top of the one we're all recovering from.  Sigh.  Sometime in the next decade I'll get to sleep again!  My babysitter hit a little misfortune as well and threw out her back and couldn't stay as long as she usually does, so today's post may be a little on the light side!

I have a little preview for you today of that sweater that I've been working on.  I just finished the 6 month size and popped it on Zoë for a little photoshoot last friday.  I think it's adorable!  Introducing Little Pea:

It took a long time to get the proportions just right and I'm really happy with it.  The sample is out of Cascade 220 Superwash handpaints.  I loved working with it, but I have a few recommendations.  #1, don't put it in the dryer.  I know it tells you that you can, and for sure it didn't felt, but it didn't treat the sweater all that nicely either.  You see, wool that has been made machine washable is very slick (so it won't felt!) and it really needs blocking to get the shape right.  I had to steam it after it came out of the dryer to get the ribbing to look nice.  Also, because it is so slippery the buttons loosened dramatically when it was washed.  I highly recommend not using the yarn to sew on the buttons.  This sweater isn't really to be worn it's just to be displayed at the shop so I didn't bother to redo the buttons.  I just tightened them and moved on to the next thing.  If this were going to spend anytime on my babes, I would have pulled them off and sewn them on with thread.

I'll be working up the next few sizes to check the pattern, so you'll be seeing a few more of these soon.  Some from stash yarn and some for the store.  I'm so glad it's finally working out!  Hopefully I'll have the pattern up for sale soon.  It's a really quick knit!

I also wanted to let you know that Naomi, my intrepid business partner, has a couple of patterns for sale on ravelry.  Introducing the very popular Highway Hat:

Even more exciting, you can buy it without having a Ravelry account (but why wouldn't you want one?)  Click here and it's yours for $5.50!  I've also added links to the sidebar where you can purchase my current ravelry downloads.  The Mountain Colors Swirl Wrap pattern gives you the laceweight instructions written by Naomi.  That has been a very popular pattern in the shop and we're really happy to make it available to everyone online.

That's all for now, I hope all of you have a safe and wonderful holiday.  I have much to be thankful for this year!  I'm really enjoying bringing you a little slice of my knitting world each week and I hope I'll be able to increase the frequency of posting soon! 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

a day late...

Oh dear, let me tell you, things have been nuts in our house recently! Lots of crafting, colds, teething, solid foods (and all the resulting digestive fun, poor zoë) and not as much time for the blogging. Sunday night I got a whole hour of sleep (1!) and I was a zombie on monday. Happily, i got to buy lots of yarn for the shop from Berroco... boy do they have some great things coming up! But you'll have to wait a bit to see that (sometime in February...)

So finally, here is a little photo of Clara in her winter coat. She's obviously 3 in this one...

Thank god for blogging or I never would have noticed that the non-buttoning buttons need some serious tightening! Then I got her to show a bit of the lining (she's happier now because we're on our way to watch the sesame street!)

Had a lovely visit with our Berroco rep yesterday (even though I was a zombie) and I was discussing my problems with the Weekend. I've been knitting off and on a sweater for Josh and not loving it. It's the perfect yarn for him, because he's a hot person and all of the wool sweaters I've knit him inevitably end up in the "when it's really cold" pile. Frankly, it doesn't get that cold in Rhode Island (at least not by our standards having grown up in Maine...) so he never wears them.

I really wanted to make him something that he would wear, and so I settled on making him a cotton sweater. I'm no great lover of knitting with cottons, so I had to wait for just the right one. When we got Weekend, I thought it was a good candidate, and the reviews from our customers put me over the edge. So I took a bag home and cast on Lakenvelder:

Well, I hated knitting it. It was splitty and weird and I just couldn't stand it. Now, Josh is no small man either and it was looking like it was going to be a LOT of knitting. sigh. So, into the bottom of the B-list knitting bag it went and I went on to other projects. Josh is a very patient man (otherwise he never would have married me!) and he understood that other things were very important to knit. I had a string of samples that the store needed and the sweater just kind of sat around for those moments where I needed something mindless.
Enter Andra who tells me that I shouldn't be knitting the thing on bamboo needles and try some turbos. She had no problem with the yarn! Well, sitting there during our spring yarn visit I whipped out some turbos and switched over. I'm in love! Which is a good thing because having forgotten what size I was knitting I totally screwed up the armhole shaping and had to frog back to the bind off... just a few hours of knitting!
Oh, and speaking of frogging. Those lovely nereid gloves went into the pond as well. I finished the first one (a thing of beauty!) and weighed the rest of the ball and realized I wouldn't have enough for the other. Seeing as I am fortunate enough to have TWO hands, I had to frog it. I just whipped up a pair of incredibly simple fingerless gloves. I innovated a bit adding some thumb shaping so my thumb wouldn't end up with a floppy little tube. I'm loving the results and I will hopefully pop it up on ravelry soon. I'm definitely planning on going back to the nereid gloves soon, probably with some string theory that I've got hanging around that will be a much better match for that pattern.
That is... as soon as I can put down Josh's sweater! More news soon on some new ravelry downloads and also that adorable sweater I was working on last week. I just need to weave the ends in an put it on my willing model! Soon!
Oh, and do you like the new look/name? That's all that's going to change, promise. We just realized that Naomi is not a blogger and it would be better if the blog were just mine. That gives me a little more freedom to talk about things not so specifically related to the shop (but who are we kidding... nearly all of my yarn comes from there!)

Monday, November 8, 2010

unfavorable conditions

The weather here in Rhode Island has been really trisky the past week. Lots of rain, clouds and gloom. Last night we even had our first snow fall. The weather forecast said this weekend was supposed to be nice with lots of sun and it was cloudy and funky the whole time. So the photography opportunities were less than awesome!

Isn't that a lovely excuse for not sharing with you Clara's Winter Coat? Ahhhh, well, it's not the only reason, dear readers. I kind of hate it. Now, it serves its purpose, it is certainly warm and Clara LOVES it, but it is just not the sweater that I pictured in my head! The proportions are all wrong-o. The sleeves are just right, but the body is HUGE. The neck is way too big so what was supposed to be a turned over collar ended up going all mandarin on me. Also, the lining was an insane job but I finished it. I channeled my Tailor of Gloucester and hand stitched the buttonholes. I am not pleased with my results, but my little girl is. I guess we can call it a partial success. I'm sure that soon I will get over it enough to take a couple of quick shots for you (as soon as the conditions improve!)

So enter take 5? no I had to rip this one out once already... Take 6:

I'm still working on the original vision which is a cross between a sweater I saw on a girl at the farmer's market about a month ago and a peacoat. This one is the 6 month size because I'd like to work out the kinks in the proportions on the SMALLEST SIZE POSSIBLE! I started Clara's Coat I think 4 times and knit all the way to putting the sleeve stitches on holders each time before deciding it was wrong all wrong. I'm still not at all sure what to do about the collar, should I go for a turned over collar or no collar or maybe just a couple of rows of garter stitch to neaten it up... we'll see. I'll be thinking about that while I knit the sleeves.

The yarn is 220 superwash handpaint. We have our lovely inside out blanket in the shop now and it's doing its job admirably but we need to show folks how beautiful the 220 handpaints are... so this sweater is working double duty as sample and drawing board. Also, the gauge will be spot on for my outside in (or should i call it Right Side In?) sweater, so I can start that as soon as this pattern is out of my brain, which can come any day now, please!

In the evenings when I can't stand the thought of working on a sweater that I've tried to knit 6 times, I've been working on a pair of fingerless gloves for me. This is the most selfish knitting I have done in a long long time. a) it's for me. b) it's not yarn we sell in the store c) it's a free pattern off the web!

it's coming along nicely:

details on ravelry. Hands are still cold, but soon, SOON, they won't be. yay!

In other news, Naomi and I will be having a book signing for the newest One Skein Wonders. We both have patterns in the book... Naomi actually has TWO! We're very very proud of it. I'm really excited about a lot of the patterns in the book, not just ours.

So save the date: December 1st @ 6:30 pm. We'll have treats and drinks and we'll sign your book!

Next week hopefully a new pattern on ravelry and some better photos. I'm shopping for a new camera that will help with my woeful lighting conditions and very swiftly moving targets! until then!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Inside out turns me outside in!

This time, dear readers, I present to you the Inside Out Baby Blanket designed by my intrepid business partner Naomi Herzfeld. She designed this awesome blanket for a yarn we loved (Cascade 220 Superwash) that wasn't doing as well as we had hoped... and BOOM it starts flying off the shelves! We had the blanket in the shop until the Cascade Yarns rep was visiting and he LOVED it. He asked if Naomi would be interested in selling Cascade the pattern? Well, we love love love being published, so of course she jumped at the opportunity. Unfortunately, they needed to take the blanket, leaving our poor store blanket-less and more importantly sample-less for the wonderful 220 Superwash. So onto my knitting queue went the fantastic Inside Out Baby Blanket.

Now, I have to say, that I had issues with the pattern. Mostly because I am a dork. My partner so kindly fixed them and emailed the changes to Cascade so you wouldn't suffer! They were little things, that if you are me, and you are ridiculous, end up costing you a lot of knitting time.

The main issue I had was that Cascade photographed the blanket (with a white border) on a white background and then cropped the border off. Being the dork I am, I am used to fudging a pattern when I think it's wrong (even when my partner designed it (oops!)) and making it look like the picture. Well, that made me knit the border in a totally wrong color which I had to rip out and then re-do. This normally wouldn't have bothered me but the blanket is knit center out, so I had to rip out 13 rows at 8 trillion stitches per row. yargh!!!!! Even worse, I thought I was running out of yarn (because I was knitting the border in the wrong color!) so it stalled my progress on the blanket until I could get to the shop and chat with Naomi about it. It was then I discovered the weirdness on the photo, which led to my stupidity and the resulting unfortunate frogging. sigh. Not a rockstar moment!

But in the end, it turned out beautifully! You just have to feel it to properly understand. Once you wash the 220 superwash it gets so soft!!! Zoë definitely approves!

Pattern is available online for free here with new photos and corrections! It takes 5 skeins of 220 superwash, 2 in the eyelet/border color and 1 each of 3 other colors. In the time since Naomi designed the blanket we've seen many variations of yarn and color and they have all been beautiful! I tried to do something a little more grown-up with this color scheme so you could imagine knitting it larger for your home (not just a baby) but I was so inspired by the colors that I want to knit an "outside in" baby sweater reversing the colors, have the gray be the stripes and alternate different turquoise colors for the eyelets. That's coming soon. Some teething, a 3rd birthday, halloween and a (sigh) water main leak at my house have seriously limited my knitting time so I haven't finished Clara's winter coat sweater yet (in my LOVE tonos worsted) It's coming... I am on the 2nd sleeve! Last night we gave the Zo some advil and watched some X-files on the netflix streaming. If all goes well I'll have some photos for you next week!