Vintage Knitting Needles and Antique Bottles

Vintage Knitting Needles and Antique Bottles

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Natalie LaChall, Fabric Surface Design

Secret Ships, shop the world without leaving Boston
The Common Cod Fiber Guild has invited Natalie LaChall of the Eliot School and Secret Ships to speak at the MIT Stata Arts Center on Friday November 14, 7 PM. Natalie will share her experiences in creating custom printed fabric using simple tools. She will hold a workshop on Saturday at the MIT Tang Center, where students will learn to make their own printed fabrics. Tickets are available until November 9 and can be purchased through the CCFG EventBrite link

Surface Fabric Design
November 15, 10 AM to 2 PM
Cost: $65.00, includes supplies for the class

To quote the Common Cod event page: 

"During this mini surface design course, you will create singular and repeat prints on fabric, both simple and highly detailed. Use contact paper and a silkscreen, freezer paper and an x-acto knife, and more. Your designs can populate unique custom t-shirts, tote bags, quilt squares or fabric yardage.

There will be a 30 minute lunch break at 12 PM; bring your lunch, or there are several sandwich shops nearby!

Maximum: 6 students, your supplies are included in the cost of the workshop.

Refund policy, instructor needs to buy materials for each student in advance so full refunds will be given through Sunday, 11/9, at midnight. Half refunds through Friday, 11/14, at midnight 

Are you curious as to what this process looks like? I am, and I plan to sign up for the class! I love sewing and I might consider custom printed fabrics for the project bags I make. Check back here for more info, or better yet.... join us on Friday night for the lecture and Saturday for the workshop!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A visit to KnitWit Yarn shop in Portland, Quince yarn, and the Gradient KAL.

Frolicking Feet for my Radiant Gradient project

I took my mum to visit KnitWit Yarn shop in Portland on Saturday. My mission was to scout around for some gradient yarn for a KAL I am hosting over on the East Coast Knitters forum page.  Go visit the page for all of the details and join us in knitting an item made with gradient colors. I will close the entries on Thanksgiving and draw for prizes on Black Friday. If chosen, you could win a project bag from KnittinginBeantown, a set of stitch markers, or a StitchNerd pattern of your choice.

The definition of gradient is: hmmmm funny because the definitions that popped up were related to math or temperature.... basically a change in the value over a slope or curve. So in color, gradient might mean shifting of color from hue to hue in longer stretches. At least that's what I thought it was. If you search gradient shawl patterns on Ravelry, you'll find many that play with shifting colors, whether within a single shade of color or over a range of complimentary or contrasting colors. If you choose to join the KAL, understand that I am pretty flexible with the definition of gradient, aim to find a colorful yarn or work within one color and use a variety of hues.

Purl Bee, Ombre Wrap
 Purl Soho had a gorgeous shawl on their page last week. Have a look.... Purl Bee Ombre Wrap
The yarn used is Mongolian Cashmere, eight skeins, for a total cost of $398.00 for the kit. I can daydream, ok? Imagine, how luxurious to knit and to wear?

Radiant Gradient by Susan Ashcroft

Another suggestion was this shawl, Radiant Gradient, by Susan Ashcroft aka Stitchnerd. This is the one I plan to cast on using the Frolicking Feet yarn seen below, but I'll need to find a good contrast color first, maybe the olive or purple.

If you have not yet popped into KnitWit, please do. It a small and unassuming spot, surprisingly stashed with yummy yarns, and staffed with welcoming and knowledgeable knitters. They have such a vast supply of Quince and Co Yarn and now, Brooklyn Tweed yarns. As I checked out the display of gradient yarns, I fell hard for the olive and deep purple tones of the Frolicking Feet. I had to have it when I discovered it is a "Made in Maine" product!

Quince and Co Chickadee in Carrie's Yellow
While browsing and getting high on wool fumes in KnitWit, my mum found a scarf she liked and so I got the pattern and yarn, and of course, cast on. The progress in the photo is minimal, but I do like the pattern and I love Chickadee, by Quince and Co Yarn.

Pattern: Scarf Squared by Pam Allen
Yarn: Quince and Co Yarn, Chickadee in the Carrie's Yellow colorway on size 6 needles.
This is such a simple but stunning pattern. You know how I love garter stitch... I love the stacked blocks of garter and the length will be just right for my mum, not too long or too wide. I need to try and finish it before going back to Maine this weekend.

So, will you join us in the Gradient KAL? No? Well, please come and look at what the group makes, maybe it will inspire a future project. Happy Knitting!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Tinking back, times three

Image imported from
Frogging back, tinking, rippit, rippit, all terms used to describe going back to a mistake for repairs.
Are you the type of knitter who rips back when you spot a mistake? Maybe you weigh the size of the error, and then, consider how far back it is? I believe that mistakes are meant to humble me and that most people, even some knitters, would be hard pressed to find the blooper. But I must confess that if I find I have messed up, I will go back and repair it. This is mostly due to the fact that I know the flub up is there, it is just easier to make it right. If you are inclined to leave your strategies regarding mistakes, I will be checking the comments for your stories!

Pattern: Nymphalidea, pattern by Melinda VerMeer. Free pattern at
Yarn: Madelinetosh Sock in Bearded Iris, Louet Gems Fingering Weight in Navy on size 5 needle.

I saw this shawl while visiting Iron Horse in Natick. The Madelinetosh Sock yarn was a purchase made while on my Knitting Retreat to Virginia Beach last spring. The Louet Gems is a favored yarn that I buy from Stitch House in Dorchester. The Nymphalidea pattern is easy enough to work on but sometimes I get lax and that happened while traveling to Maine Friday. I discovered the error about two inches down and ripped back to fix it. The contrast rib in blue was half as wide as it should have been, I knew it was easier to go back for repairs rather than regret it later if I left it as it was. I also blocked the section that I had knit so far in order to see the ribs and contrast. I am loving how it looks and I highly recommend this for variegated yarns.

Pattern: Wayland by Amor Esperanza
Yarn: Crave Yarn, Song in  Soliliquoy colorway, created by Amor Esperanza, knit on size 4 needles.

Crave Yarn, Song
I stumbled upon this indie dyer and this color as I clicked on a Ravelry ad. Do you ever venture down that rabbit hole? I encourage you to try looking at some of this banners at the bottom of the forums pages or to the left on the other Ravelry pages. You never know what treasures and great deals you might find. The yarn is a lovely fingering weight and the color defies description. I like to think of beach sand or sunset steaks in the sky. It isn't a color I normally feel drawn to and so it will be a unique piece in my shawl/scarf wardrobe. The pattern is a good, mindless knit and it seems to be going along quickly. I think I may knit it again in a worsted or sport weight. I like it that much.

Oh, frogging back. I did discover a boo boo in the garter stitches and it was pretty noticeable. And it was four inches back. It sat in time out for a bit as I pondered the crazy idea of going back that far to correct a small mistake. Chalk it up to my love of garter stitch, and to my anal retentive tendencies, going back via frogging back won out. I am nearly back at the point where I stopped and frogged back, and I am pleased with how it looks now.
Pattern: Thorn by Bristol Ivy
Yarn: Brooklyn Tweed Loft in the Almanac colorway on size  4 needles
The final frogging happened on my Thorn. I am still working on it sporadically, but when I set it down, I definitely lose my rhythm. The mistake was an easy fix, thanks to the life line I am still relying on. The ripping out involved only four rows. I didn't do a quick bath and block on this shawl, but I am tempted to do so to see the lines shaped by the twisted stitches and ribs. (By a quick bath and block, I mean that I have begun to block these shawls to see the stitch definition).  Blocking before casting off????? Ok, ok... call me crazy! I know it is true.

So that is the saga of frogging back, tinking back and ripping out to fix mistakes. I would love to hear your stories about this problem. Do you keep knitting or are you like me? I loathe knowing that mistake is going to make me regret skipping repairs.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Hopping backwards toward the frog pond, casting on and off...

Quaker Yarn Stretcher Boomerang in Noro Taiyo
I have been preoccupied with life and have neglected the blog, but knitting has been I will give you the installment plan. I have been traveling by bus each weekend to stay with my parents in Maine. I enjoy visiting, helping with cleaning, cooking, shopping and general company-keeping.  The ride up and back is a little over 2 hours each way, so I have been making progress on things, but taking photos and posting here has not kept up. So sorry...

So my headline says casting on, and off and frogging backwards. This short post is the Casting Off. I love this, Quaker Yarn Stretcher Boomerang, a pattern by Susan Ashcroft. I have made it twice in recent months. It is quick and easy and the end result  is a sculptural shawl that people want to take right off your shoulders!! The Noro Taiyo and solid contrasting green yarns came from my knitting group friend, Lauren. I am always happy to home destashed yarns! If you'll notice, my shawl has a border in a contrasting color; I picked up stitches to add depth and an accent of color. This is a pay for pattern, but I think you will enjoy knitting it and it makes a great gift. Please peruse Susan Ashcroft/Stitchnerd Design's patterns. She has so many that I want to make!

Pattern: Quaker Yarn Stretcher Boomerang by Susan Ashcroft
Yarn: Noro Taiyo Aran and unknown aran weight green wool on size 8 needles

Tomorrow, I will continue the headline story and let you see what got frogged back. (It was actually three projects, but in each case, the ripping out only went back a few inches... still a pain but it wasn't a situation of starting back at square one).

Friday, September 12, 2014

Ravelry Top Twenty Patterns OMG, have you seen this??????

Fox Paws, a wrap by Xandy Peters
Do you lurk daily on the Ravelry Top Twenty patterns? Imagine the swooning that has been witnessed here on this end? Between the latest release of Brooklyn Tweed's Wool People and now this designer, I should be in a Jane Austen novel with the vapors I have been suffering! I had to Instagram the news to my knitting friends when I found this treasure trove of ideas!

Fox Paws
What smacks you first? For me it was the colors, then the gorgeous stitch pattern and finally, the absolute originality of the concept! I consider knitting akin to doing puzzles, to knit this would be the equivalent in completing (correctly) the Sunday Times puzzle with no divine intervention. No, that's not accurate... completing a swatch in this stitch pattern would be just the thing to push my skills to a whole 'nother level. I would try this just for the brain stretching that would ensue, not to mention the challenge to create a unique color combination approaching the ones shown on Xandy's pattern page.

Another color version of Fox Paws
I pride myself on being a Ravelry stalker, in a good way of course! I am on the site daily, adding to my endless list of Favorites and Queuing things I may never, ever get to knit. It is the desire for omniscience of all things knitting that drives me to pursue this obsession. I love to enable, I enjoy sharing a new fiber, indie dyer or designer. In doing the enabling, I figure I am parceling out the projects I can only dream of.... would you buy this pattern just to show the love for the concept? I did just that and I urge you to consider joining me in my fervor to spread the word of a concept, pattern, yarn, or technique to anyone who will listen.

Image by Marj Loeper, imported from Ravelry page.
Fox Paws, by Xandy Peters. This is a wrap, but can be scaled down to a scarf or shawl size. The project is worked with over 1100 yards of fingering weight yarn on size 6 needles. The "stripes" are so elaborate and look like delicate feet. As described in her Ravelry project notes, the horizontal bands of color are shaped with increases and decreases, using two or more colors without strands or floats on the reverse side. Are you intrigued? How did she do that?

Fox Paws
Fox Paws is just one of ten designs by Xandy Peters. Take a look at the second one that appealed to me, Petal Cowl. This pattern is worked in fingering weight on size 5 needles. It is a smaller scale project calling for under 500 yards of self striping yarn, perhaps a relative quick knit? In choosing a self-striping yarn, the selection of an exciting color palette is done for you. The pattern was released in June 2014 and there are 55 projects listed already! Be brave, jump in!!

Petal Cowl, project by berin. Image imported from Ravelry page.
Close up view
Endless possibilities for color combing!
The skills required to make Petal Cowl include knitting in the round, increasing and decreasing, and may I add, a brave quest to choose an edgy skein of self-striping yarn that combines and contrasts colors for the optimal effect.

Have a look at Xandy's patterns page, if only for the sheer amazement factor. The third design that intrigues me is Solarita, this was actually the first pattern I looked at. It is currently on the Top Twenty Patterns page. The curved sweep is appealing, and the intricate edging is so different from any I have seen, it drew me in. The border takes me back to Greek art history classes, the repeated shapes call to mind urns and murals from long ago.

Wrapped Solarita, back view
The pattern design was inspired by the shifting colors of sunset and the need for an in-between weight wrap for cool summer evenings. The shawl is knit with Brooklyn Tweed Loft, a fingering weight yarn, on size 6 needles.

The final temptation is Feather Flame, a shawl pattern that was released in March of this year. (How much do you envy prolific designers?)

Feather Flame
The shawl is reminds me of feather and fan stitches but it is different. The chevrons are tipped in a bias fashion and the shape of the shawl has a bit of curve for ease of wear. The difficulty factor calls upon skills of increasing, decreasing and the pattern is both written and charted. The yarn featured on Xandy's project page are Lion Brand Sock Ease in the Red Hot colorway. Any fingering weight, self-striping yarns would be appropriate, the shawl is knit on size 5 needles.

I love the styling, the colors pop.
I urge you to use your Instagram or Twitter account, or just word of mouth to spread the news to your knitting groups, blog or podcast. Share a pattern, yarn or technique, you know you want to be an enabler, yes you do!