Today is our last day in Sunset Beach. Tomorrow it will be driving and knitting in the car. It has been a wonderful month. Heavy on knitting, reading and jigsaw puzzles but light on responsibility and commitment. My Spartans looked great last night so I think it is time to get back home where we can watch all of the games on the Big 10 network, Of course, I had to make one final trip to Knit 'N Purl to say goodbye to Molly and Lydia's relatives. For all of you who are new to Knitting: A Love Story, Lydia is my mannequin who models my treasures when I take my pictures.
This is Lydia. She makes my treasures come to life. I gave this scarf away and looking at it on Lydia, I'm remembering how much I enjoyed making this. I guess I have to dig out the pattern, find some UDY (undesignated yarn) and knit this again. I always have been very happy with how Lydia photographs and didn't think anything could be better until I met Lydia's relatives at Knit 'N Purl. Now I have great plans for Lydia.
Just look at how great this knitted top looks when combined with a jacket. Since Lydia doesn't have legs, there will be no pants.
See how much better this cowls works when treated as an accent for the teal jacket.
This just kind of shouts, "I have a jacket this color, I think I need to make a cowl just like this one!"
On Tuesday, I went into Knit 'N Purl for the last time in 2016. Molly was working so I got to say goodbye to her and then this happened.
This is the fiber for a Colinette ( I think this is misspelled but the yarn is already packed in the back of the truck) project; a throw or afghan. I realized as I picked it up that I had been in Knit 'N Purl four times and four times I picked this up. I immediately invoked the "4 and Home" rule which says, "If you pick up the same yarn 4 different times either on the same visit or different visits, you are obliged to buy it." I have no idea what pattern I will use for this, I just know it will be spectacular.
This is SOME of the yarn I bought for Knit The Sky. The rest is in my little tub already being used to Knit The Sky. I can't wait to show you how it's working. It is great fun.
This is a sweet little cowl knit I bought because I think Ann of Ann's By Design would be very interested in how Knit 'N Purl makes their own kits.
This is a shawl kit for Linda because she did me a huge favor in looking in on Mom while we were gone.
Then I bought some Poems Sock yarn. Don't ask me why. I don't knit socks but I really liked the colorway. I know there are plenty of things you can do with sock yarn besides socks.
One final Farewell to Lydia's relatives. . .
and Molly and the gang. If you are ever any where near Myrtle Beach, you must visit Knit 'N Purl. Or if you're not going to be near Myrtle Beach, visit their online store. I will tell you, the online store has all of the inventory but it doesn't have Molly and the gang. You really need to go in person to get the full effect.
So long Sunset Beach until next year.
I have just discovered the wonders of the garter stitch. I've knit all of these years and kind of wrote the garter stitch off as something only beginners do or something not very stylish. How can anything be good that reminds me of a snake? (garter stitch, garter snake, I know, if you have to explain it, it isn't funny.) But thanks to my Beacon Shawl and lots of time to ponder and ruminate at the Coastal Cottage, I have developed a new appreciation for the garter stitch. The Beacon Shawl was done totally in garter stitch and it is sophisticated and beautiful.
What do you think? Isn't it beautiful and it isn't even steamed yet. It's hard to believe it's going to be even more beautiful.
I did make one teeny, weeny change. You all know how much I love pink. Well, I made the pink the color along the bottom ( I took a picture of Beacon Shawl upside down, on the picture it is the color on the top) since that to me looks like the dominant color. Remember, this is how it will be worn. . .
So in your mind just think pink where the orange is and you have mine. And I do mean it's mine. I love it and know exactly what I am going to wear with it. All this with just the garter stitch. It could be a beginning knitting project except for some things that are a little awkward. If you can cast on, bind off, do the knit stitch, M1L (make 1 left) and pick and knit stitches, you can do this. You just have to trust the pattern. It is a little awkward to knit the contrasting colors onto the main color, but it is doable. I taken a few pictures of steps along the way.
First, you knit the main piece (section 1) in garter stitch using a simple 6 row pattern. The most difficult part is keeping track of which row you are on and how many stitches you have. I gave tips in the last post for that.
For section 2 you cast on stitches in contrasting color. This is a little awkward. I needed to go from a 5 needle to a 6 for the gray part but that didn't work for the contrasting color. I needed to knit one row with a 6 and the next row with a 5 to get the right look in the contrasting color. I really struggled at this point. The 6 was too loose and the 5 was too tight but using one 5 and one 6 was just right (does this sound a little like a take on a children's story?) From this point until the contrasting section 2 is finished, at times I have three different needles attached to the shawl; 1 needle with the live stitches at the bottom of section 1, a second needle with the live stitches that have been picked up along the edge to attach the contrasting color to and a third needle which is the size 5 to get the right gage for the contrasting color. The more I think about it, maybe this isn't a beginning knitting project.
This is what it looks like while you're doing section 2; knitting the contrasting color to section1. I must say I had a great time knitting the Beacon Shawl. I can see myself knitting this again.
I should have realized the power and beauty of the garter stitch after all one of my favorite designers and teachers, Sally Melville, wrote a whole book about it called The Knit Stitch. Now that I think about it there are things about the garter stitch that I have always loved. Like the fact the edges don't curl like with the stockinette stitch. There edges are always flat and smooth. The fabric knit in stockinette is always firm and strong. It does take a lot more yarn to knit in garter than in stockinette.
I am going to go work on my Silk Garden afghan which is also knit in garter stitch. And Knit The Sky is also knit in garter stitch. The garter stitch and gradient yarn, my two new obsessions. I'll show you my Knit The Sky in the next post.
I am a knitting perfectionist. Unfortunately, that trait doesn't carry over to housekeeping. I have learned many tricks throughout the years to up the odds that my end products will be perfect. I have learned which mistakes I can live with and which ones I can't. I also love gadgets. Put those two traits together and suffice it to say, I have purchased most every gadget to help me turn out perfect knitted treasures. But of all of the things I have tried, I will tell what are the two I cannot live without.
I left home without any of things little wonders so my first stop after Publix when we got to the Coastal Cottage was Hobby Lobby so I could buy some. I use these for everything.
As you can see from my Beacon Scarf, I use them as stitch markers. They fit an any needle I use (except maybe the size 50 I used when I knit the wall hanging knit with 25 strands of yarn) so I don't need different sized stitch markers. They aren't as pretty as some of the more artsy stitch markers, but they don't catch on or snag the yarn either. I hate it when that happens. You can add them after the fact or take them off without moving all of your stitches from one needle to another because of that great little clasp. Look WWWAAAYYY over to the right. See the marker about four rows down? This particular pattern starts with 3 stitches and adds 2 stitches every 6 rows. I use this to mark the beginning of a 6 row sequence. For me it is so much better that a mechanical row counter. Can you ever be sure you clicked it? I never can. Then I spend a lot of time trying to figure out what row I am really on. I always count my stitches at the end of the 6 row sequence. That wasn't a problem in the beginning, but after about 50 stitches, I felt I was spending way too much time counting. So, I decided to put one of these handy-dandy markers every twenty stitches. I saved myself a ton of time, spent more time knitting and by the way, up my odds of perfection.
Do you remember the Knit Swirl I gave Linda for Christmas last year? If you want to read more about it, go the December 2014 archive. I had to cast on 650 stitches (I swear I thought I cast on 1,200 but the website says 650) using the long tail method. It didn't scare me! I ALWAYS cast on 50 stitches then put a marker, 50 stitches then put a marker, 50 stitches then put a marker, etc. so I don't loose my place then have to start counting over. So I only had to know how to count to 50 not 650.
My beautiful Noro Silk Garden afghan is a 20 row pattern. To make sure I have knit the right number of rows I used the following marker. . .
Not good! They fell out in the car. The markers that close are so much better. It really doesn't matter what brand you buy, just buy a lot. When I have to increase or decrease, I put a marker so I know exactly how many times I've increased or decreased just by counting the markers. I use them to hold two pieces together just to get a general idea on how things are coming.
And now for my last, indispensable knitting gadget. . .
A piece of paper and and pencil! Between my markers and keeping track with pencil and paper, I haven't made one mistake. When I get to the end of a 6 row sequence I count my stitches, move my marker and are 6 rows closer to perfection.
I can't wait to finish the Beacon Scarf. Really I can't wait to move from the gray base to the colored edges. When you start with 3 stitches in a row and end up with 103 stitches in a row things kind of bog down.
I want to thank Lori from LTB for pointing me toward the suggestions on Ravelry to make this beautiful scarf even better. I really thought I would be done with this in two weeks, but this may be finished at home.
See you don't need expensive gadgets, just expensive yarn to make yummy things.
Some Where Over The Rainbow
What color do I knit more than any other? All of them! I knit the rainbow, the color spectrum, Roy G Biv more than any single color. After I slowed down on knitting my survivor shawls in PINK, PINK, PINK!, I became fixated on the color spectrum. Knitting at the Coastal Cottage hasn't been any different. The first thing I grabbed to finish (could this put me on my way to being half way to completing one of my knitting goals!?!?!) was the rainbow, gradient yarn from Tess Designer Yarns. I finished it and it is beautiful.
This is what it looked like when I left Michigan and this is what it looks like now.
It will be even more beautiful when I can steam it. This is such an intuitive project. You are really just putting the colors in by feel and instinct. Thank you so much to Melinda for all of the help she gave me with developing a comfort for knitting on my own with no exact instructions. She held my hand and didn't get inpatient. Tess Designer Yarns has the best customer service. (When I'm done Knitting the Sky, I am going to Knit The Sunset and get the gorgeous gradient yarns from Tess Designer Yarns. Great idea!?!?!?!) The only instructions are to knit with 4 strands of this gorgeous lace weight yarn, gradually replacing one colors with another. I learned so much from this that I really want to do another and get it perfect this time. I would purchase two kits and make sure there was more color change from the orange and red and more solid color.
I could review all of the rainbow treasures I have knit over the years, but I think I'll wait and do that at the end of the year when I have even more to show.
I learned the importance of swatching once again! After I finished the gorgeous gradient blanket, I started this. . .
I looked at the pattern which said size 5 needle. "There's no fitting with this," I thought. I didn't bother to swatch. I just took out my size 5 needles and I was one my way. You start with 3 stitches, increase 2 stitches every 6 rows until you have 95 stitches. When I had 63 stitches on my needles, I thought it looked really small. Well, it might have been a great scarf for a toddler or American girl doll but it wasn't going to work for me. Soooooooo, I ripped it out and started over. Learning for the person who almost always swatches, ALWAYS SWATCH! I still remember the survey I read where MANY people said they NEVER swatch. I get chills! Why would you buy beautiful yarn, spend many hours on something that has less than a 50/50 chance of fitting! I relearned my lesson.
TTFN (Ta Ta For Now) from Sunset Beach.
We got to the fabulous Coastal Cottage on New Year's Day (Friday) and I waited until Sunday to make my FIRST trip to Knit 'N Purl. Well, it wasn't really open on New Year's Day and January 2 we were unpacking and getting settled but January 3, I really couldn't wait any longer. Believe it or not they are open from 1-5 on Sundays. I did have somethings in mind which I thought shouldn't wait until Monday. I needed some blue yarn for Knit The Sky.
You walk in the front door and are greeted by these two beautiful relatives of Lydia. This gives me an idea that I should dress Lydia before I take pictures of Lydia wearing my knitted treasures. Even though it was Sunday, there were people knitting at the long table, but one things was wrong. Molly wasn't there.
After receiving many complements on my Rocks From The Riverbed (really that's why I wore it. I wanted to basked in the attention!) and buying blue yarn for Knit The Sky, I decided to come back when Molly would be there.
I walked in the door and immediately heard in this lilting voice, "Well, look who's here!" After a hug, I was enveloped in the charm of Knit 'N Purl under the enchantment of Molly Bruton. I felt like I'd walked through the looking glass and was in a magical land of happiness, joy and fiber. The people at the table were there for the mystery Knit-A-Long which had been posted that morning. They were given directions but no picture and were waiting at the door at 10:00 to participate. As I walked around the store, I listened to the sounds of people doing exactly what they want to do in exactly the place they want to be. Woven in with the laughter and chatter was this wonderfully musical voice of Molly.
Knit 'N Purl has even more fiber treasures this year than it did last year. Remember last year when I said the shop had all of these little kiosks and looked like a gallery of fiber? This year there was something more and Molly told me the story. She decided she wanted to dress the mannequins so at the end of the coat season went to stores and bought coats. Just look down this isle. The mannequins are dressed in coats with shawls or scarfs or cardigans. She said originally she thought she wanted navy or gray or navy but then realized the bright colored one were less expensive. What you see all over are splashes of color covered in splashes of color. You know what a sucker I am for color. This effect grabbed me almost as tight as Knit 1 Bead 2 in Jerome, Arizona where is yarn is organized by color.
I would be over in one corner and hear, "Well, hello Missy! How are you today?" in that infectious voice that makes me smile. "How long are we going to have you with us this year?" was the question for one of the ladies at the table. So this is a place that not only honors locals but pays homage to the winter people who need a fiber fix while they're away from their LYS back home.
This shop the jammed packed with yarn of all kinds from less expensive to more expensive; from wools and cottons to exotic; from plain to exquisite; it's all there. You would think a relatively small shop with all of this yarn would be chaotic and confusing but it isn't. You can distinguish every yarn with most yarns having a sample knit. You know what a sucker I am for a sample.
How can Molly be every place at once? She is helping this person, she is answering questions for that person, she is admiring my Rocks From The Riverbed. Everyone feels important and included. What a talent! She said something very profound in that the success of a shop isn't if it succeeds from year to year but from generation to generation. Isn't that beautiful! I think that is why I want to mentor Taylor this year to become one of the next generation of knitters.
Look back through my pictures and you'll see on the walls how the yarn is organized; lace, sock, sport, dk, worsted, bulky.
I wanted to take a couple more pictures of Lydia's relatives before I said goodbye . . .
But I will be back for more yarn, my Molly fix and because I have a 25% discount on my next purchase Who can resist that?!?!?!
2016 The Year Of the Finisher
Well, it's time to get on with my knitting goals for 2016. I am semi-recovered from my Spartans loss on New Year's Eve. We had planned our trip to the Coastal Cottage based on when the Spartans would play in their NCAA Football Final 4 game. We drove to Mt Airy (remember Mt Airy from the Andy Griffith Show? Aunt Bea was always going shopping in Mt. Airy), spent the night and watched the Spartans. Sad! Sad! Sad! Well, on to Spartan basketball.
I am calling this The Year Of The Finisher because, well, you'll see why as you read my goals. I'd thought about calling it The Year Of The Closer but that just seemed too baseball or too interrogation rather than about joyous completion.
Goal #1 is to organized and keep organized the Stash Studio. I was all set this year to have it ready when Kathy came for Christmas then the flu knocked me out and I didn't have enough energy to climb the stairs let alone clean and organize. It is such a wondrous space, I don't know why I let it get out of hand. I really missed taking knitting up stairs during the Christmas season and listening to Christmas music. You've seen it at its best, you've seen it at its worst and in 2016 you'll see it in perfection. While I'm organizing I may practice my new found power and cull my stash a bit.
Goal #1 leads right into Goal #2 which is to have my knitting buddies new and old (I don't mean in years of age but years of knitting together) over for a knitting party. I think I would use the same format as Jocelyn Brown used for Stitch Together: Bring something you've knit, a pattern to share and a skein of yarn from your stash to trade. Wouldn't that be fun!?!?!?!
Goal #3 is to finish two things which are partially knit. That could be my Valentina Devine. . .
But as much as I love it it probably won't be the Rainbow Cardigan I started last year at Sunset Beach. Remember?
Isn't it beautiful?!?!?! But you may remember it like this. . .
Nightmare!!!!!! If you have just recently joined me you might want to dig into the archives and read about the making of the Rainbow Cardigan during January of 2015. You know now that I look at the picture, I love it. I think it is kind of like childbirth, you don't remember the pain just the beauty of the end product. We'll see.
Goals #4 is to finish two things I have yarn and pattern for but haven't started. I many, many, many little kits that I thought I just couldn't live without. I even have yarn and patterns which used to be a kit but some how got separated. Will I ever really know what they were supposed to be?
Goal #5 is to make two projects from my UDY (undesignated yarn) collection. I think this will probably included something from the fabulous Twisted Fiber Arts. As I organize the Stash Studio, I plan to open every tub and get reacquainted with all of my little darlings. This will definitely rekindle the love.
Now from goals 3, 4 and 5 I definitely will have treasures just awaiting someone for Christmas next year.
Goal #6 is to plan 2 unique classes for Ann's By Design. I have learned that I love to coach and help people solve problems much more than teach a class so maybe my classes will revolve around that. I kind of envision one on fixing mistakes or different cast-ons and why you use them.
Goal #7 is to not let Knit The Sky become synonymous with journaling. You know, you get a journal for Christmas and have all of the intention of writing every day and before you know it it is June and you haven't touched it since February. So far it is going great, but then it has only been four days of knitting.
Goal # 8 is to visit a new LYS.
Remember Evie my best friend from collage? Remember the afghan I gave her for Christmas?
Evie's granddaughter Taylor fell in love with it and has decided to learn to knit. My last goal, Goal # 9 is to connect with Taylor this year and mentor her along the journey to life long knitting.
Do you think I've been over exuberant? Do you think I've planned too much? Well, there definitely is a stretch here.
Oh, wait!!!! I forgot a goal. I think the number should be even. So my Goal # 10 is to learn to brioche and use this beautiful Twisted Fiber Arts sock yarn to make a scarf. Hazel's grandma had one on at the last TFA yarn tasting and it was fabulous.
Well, now I am significantly overwhelmed and I think I need to go knit!
Last year I sat right here in the Coastal Cottage at Sunset Beach, South Carolina and set eight knitting goals for the year. They weren't extravagant or far reaching, they were just things I wanted to do in 2015. Before I set my goals for 2016, I thought I would review how I did in 2015.
Goal #1 was to continue Knitting: A Love Story and I did. Who would have thought that I would have had 22 months of knitting to talk about?!?!?! It has been fun and challenging and rewarding. I have met so many people both f2f and online because of this little project. I got invited to participate in the Detroit New Stitch Together. It has been a blast. Please don't think any publishing company has picked up Knitting: A Love Story. My Mom can't/won't read from a tablet or a computer so I had Knitting: A Love Story printed last year so she could read it. I did the same thing this year, but don't have a picture and didn't bring a copy of the book with me. I've always wanted to be published. I've dreamed of writing something so good that after I'm gone people would still be reading it. I really don't think Knitting: A Love Story falls into that category but it is kind of a kick to see my name on a book.
I am going to lump Goals 2 and 5 together because they happened in the same place. Goal 2 was take a knitting class and Goal 5 was visit Crafty Lady Trio. I accomplished both of these at Crafty Lady Trio. I took a class on using the iPad for knitting and learned lots but two things really brought it home. I was introduced to Pinterest and I learned how to put Ravelry and Patternfish patterns into iBooks and carry them with me always. I must admit my addiction to Pinterest. I will put something into search and the next thing you know 2 hours have past. I found Tess's Fine Yarns (my gradient blanket, and YES I believe I will finish it while we're here!), a beautiful gradient teal yarn on Esty and so many exquisite patterns. Linda and I made a visit to Crafty Lady Trio to reconnect with the friendly atmosphere and fabulous fibers. Unfortunately, the marvelous Martina wasn't there but her equally marvelous (I just couldn't come up with another "m" word) daughter Megan was there. Crafty Lady Trio is where Linda's and my mutual love affair with knitting began. We have taken many classes and learned many things: The Crayon Box Jacket, knitting with Koigu, knitting with Valentina Devine and her game changing module knitting, finishing tips, knitting with Maggie Jackson and her production approach and many more things. Check off Goals 2 and 5 and seal it with a kiss.
Goal 3 was to finish my Kauni sweater which I didn't. I love this piece of knitted fabric so I know I will finish it. Unlike the Noro Silk Garden jacket which is becoming an afghan.
Goal 4 was to knit with Twisted Fiber Arts yarn which I did. Not only did I knit with it, I stalked Hazel's Grandma to get this pattern which I loved. I knitted with Twisted Fiber Arts but not enough. I would check this off with hesitation. I really wanted to use one of my big cakes for a glorious shawl but I did technically complete my goal.
Goal 6 was to visit Knit Purl in Portland, Oregon and meet the fabulous Oleya. Dick and I were going to fly to San Francisco and drive the Pacific Coast Highway in September/October then the fires happened. We decided 2015 was not the year to do this. But Linda got to go to Knit Purl and meet Oleya.
Someday, this picture will be of Oleya and me.
Goal 7 was to begin working on The Knitter's Life List. I decided to start with knitting swatches of exotic yarn then comparing the feel. I did buy several yarns and I did knit one swatch, so technically I did BEGIN work on the Knitter's Life List. To paraphrase Bill Clinton, "It depends on what you mean by begin." I do love this book and will begin working through it.
Goal 8 was to knit more with Linda. I forgot what I used to tell clients when I facilitated strategic planning. "Never set a goal for yourself that is dependent on somebody else. You only have the ability to effect what you do not what somebody else does." Linda is just so busy. The life of an elementary principal is not a predictable one. Linda is the very best building principal. Many nights she will call at 7:00 or later and will be just leaving school. Some day Linda will retire and we will have time to knit to our hearts content. Until then, this is a dream rather than a goal.
This is how life interfered with plans. Last year at this time when I set my goals, there wasn't such a thing as Ann's By Design. My goals were plausible and possible. I really did have time to commit to each one. Then I committed to working for Ann both in the store and teaching classes. Factoring this new commitment in, I really didn't have enough time to complete my goals but I wouldn't change a thing. I love being a part of Ann's By Design. I love the people I work with and the customers who come in. I love the people in the Friday social knitting and have made two new friends. (Hi, Thea and Dawn!) I committed to Ann for a year but in December I told her I would volunteer for her as long as it is working for her.
Dick is going to golf on Tuesday but it's too cold for me. I'll finish up my 2016 goals then.
This blog is dedicated to Mary Helen Growt my first knitting teacher and the woman who changed my life. The mission of Knitting: A Love Story is to preserve, share and promote the love of knitting.