Category Archives: Knitting Books

Good-bye Purl By the Sea-Another Local Yarn Store Closes

Overcast weather on Montauk beach

Overcast weather on Montauk beach

Despite the forecasts for heavy rain, my husband and I took off Friday and headed out to Montauk for one last visit to Purl By the Sea before Nora Franzetti closed its doors. Ever since we first discovered Purl By the Sea nestled behind the main drag in Montauk, it’s been the bright spot in our visits to the beach. It’s always been welcoming and friendly circle of knitters. Women who live in the area combined with those who vacation there regularly. Further, it had a great assortment of yarns including low priced work horses such as Lamb’s Pride as well as unusual high end specialty yarns. To add to the allure, Nora kept an amazing selection of knitting books.

The vibe in this store is wonderful and it’s closing is real loss to the knitting community. I feel very lucky to consider myself a part of this circle of women. They were very welcoming to my husband who tended to quietly take up residence on their husband’s rocker in the back corner.

We thought that we would be able to beat the rain. But by the time we got to the beach, it started drizzling and after an hour of camping out beneath our rain gear, we decided to head for Purl By the Sea.

Since it was our last visit, we spent most of the day there. It was the beginning of the 50% off sale and stuff was flyingout of the store.

I bought the last two Barbara Walker stitchonaries (Volumes 3 and 4). I also bought a 47 inch Addi in case I make another Hemlock Ring Blanket. Of course, I couldn’t resist at least one more addition to my stash. I bought a few hanks of Blue Sky Baby Alpaca to make a scarf which should be very soft!

Since the weekday trains back to Manhattan are scarce. We walked around Montauk in the light rain and headed back to the beach for a last look at the cloudy sky.

We treated ourselves to East by North East, a fancy local restaurant, which serves pan Asian cuisine. It was a nice way to cap off the day. Of course, our train didn’t get back into Manhattan until about 2.00am…

Submitted by Knitted Yarns Editor-in-Chief

F is for Fiber, Fiber Festivals and Fiber Farms

Overflowing basket of yarn at Rosie's Yarn Cellar in Philadelphia

Overflowing basket of yarn at Rosie's Yarn Cellar in Philadelphia

When it comes to writing about fiber, I could go on and on filling miles of online space as I’m sure many of you could as well. There’s the wonderful stuff that we find at Sheep & Wool Festivals that comes from the people who raise the animals or dye  it using a wonderful palette of colors. Of course, some of this may retain its lamby smell as the Icelandic lace weight my husband influenced me to buy at last fall’s Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool Festival. (Don’t worry–I have it well wrapped in a plastic bag to keep its small contained!) 

At the other end of the spectrum are the pre-packaged balls that colorfully crowd the shelves of our favorite LYS. For me, that includes The Point NYC and Knitty City. I love the fact that The Point clusters the yarns by brand and color so that they burst out of their baskets. By contrast, the yarns in Knitty City are packed into their cubbyholes and spill into baskets on the floor. 

In between are the cones of various yarns and mill ends that I buy at Silk City Fibers. They come in a wide variety of contents and the colors may not always be my first choice but they’re well priced and always become wonderful cherished items. At the core of my stash, there are some large cones of wonderful materials including mill ends of cashmere and cashmere blends (which I plan to make into amazing shawls since some of it is laceweight), some thick Chunky in Sweet Potato orange from which I’ve promised to make my husband a sweater (although he insists that a pair of socks would be much better), 2 pounds of black (yes you read that correctly) lace weight Italian linen which I will either make a shawl and/or mix it with a grey and white linen mix to make my After Dark Nightie #2 and a matching bathrobe from the first Mason Dixon Knits book. 

Alas, there’s too much yarn and not enough time to knit it all!  That said, I believe that it’s important to let the fiber tell you what it wants to be . It’s not that the fibers actually talk (that would be silly!) Rather, I find that it’s necessary to test some swatches and see what type of pattern works best for the yarn. For example, the spring sweater that I’m working on required several swatches to see what stitch would work best. I am lucky that I don’t find the math required to adapt a pattern to be a chore (although I would argue anyone can do this math but that’s for another blog post). Further, I am flexible and find beauty in a wide variety of fibers! 

I am a HUGE fan of fiber festivals. They are wonderful outdoor activities that allow knitters to mingle with other lovers of yarn producing livestock, spinners and dyers. The Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival in May and the New York State Sheep & Wool Festival (known as the Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool Festival) in October are the two that I attend. While they encompass a wide range of activities, I generally spend my precious time there focused on stash enhancement.

Calmly taking in the NY State Sheep & Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, NY

Calmly taking in the NY State Sheep & Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, NY

Fiber producing animals at Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival

 

Lastly, there are fiber farms. While I have only visited one, it was a wonderful experience that happened during the first trip my husband and I took back in the summer of 2005. Based on a brief entry in our guidebook, we drove from Lennox, MA to the middle of the state to Tregellys Farm. The owner was an incredibly friend chap who spent time talking about the farm and its wonderful assortment of animals including the heirloom equivalents of livestock. They also had camels and yaks.

Tregellys Fiber Farm in Massechuetss

Tregellys Fiber Farm in Hawley, MA

Llamas at Tregellys Farm

Llamas at Tregellys Farm (Of course, they may be alpacas?)

Fiber producing yaks at Tregellys Farm in Hadley MA

Fiber producing yaks at Tregellys Farm in Hadley MA

 

Boyfriend (now husband) & Camel at Tregellys Farm

Boyfriend (now husband) & Camel at Tregellys Farm

More fiber producing animals at Tregellys Farm in Hadley MA

Fiber producing llamas at Tregellys Farm in Hadley MA

Rowan International Membership

 

Rowan International Membership

Rowan International Membership

Friends passed along a great tip which I’m sharing with all of you Rowan lovers out there. Rowan offers an International Membership  for 25 UK pounds (given the current exchange rates is about US $35.00!).

This membership gives you two copies of their semi-annual magazine which is more of a book than a magazine and a knitting project (where I’m told you get to choose the color of the yarn!) These magazines cost about $20.00-$25.00 in your local yarn store. So if you’re a Rowan fan, I recommend that you check it out.

BTW, I saw this issue of Rowan at one of my LYS. I thought that it had some great patterns including a wonderful circular shawl with sleeves and a lace sweater that got me wanting to buy some yarn and start knitting! 

Submitted by Knitted Yarns Editor-in-Chief

Mom Models Triinu Sharf

I made the pink and purple Triinu Shawl from Nancy Bush’s Lace Knitting of Estonia as a holiday surprise for my mother.  My surprise was her willingness to model it for my blog! (Don’t tell anyone but I think she really enjoyed it.)

Mom modeling her Triinu Scarf

Mom modeling her Triinu Scarf

Mom modeling her Triinu Scarf with a knitting friend

Mom modeling her Triinu Scarf with a knitting friend

As my mother requested, I am still working on a black Shetland lace scarf. This knitted piece is much narrower but it must be at least 6 feet ling when blocked. Due to the dark color and lace weight yarn, it’s taking forever since I can only knit a few rows at a time before my eyes hurt. I just passed the 32 inch mark. Less than 40 inches left to go due to blocking growth!

New Knitting Book for 2009 – aka What to do with the leftover yarn from your larger projects!

For the New Year, my friend Amanda gave me Luxury Yarn One Skein Wonders! She has been enthusiastically knitting Christmas gifts from this book.

What a fantastic gift, especially since my recent knitting projects have had leftovers. These leftovers, unlike the kind that you have after a meal, can make a wonderful new knitted object if you have the right pattern. I often refer to these projects as “recycle” projects since making the initially intended object gives me permission to write off the yarn from my stash.

For those of you who don’t know this little secret about me, I keep a spreadsheet tracking my yarn purchases. To help me reduce my list of UFOs and better track my WIPs (aka Works-in-Progress), I have enhanced the spreadsheet to track WIPs. In this category, I also include items that I’ve committed to make, like the orange double basketweave sweater that I’m making for my husband for Chanukkah 2008.

Read Any Good Knitting Books Lately? – The 2008 Knitting Bookshelf

2008 was a great year for enhancing my knitting library. I attribute this to my interest in learning more about lace knitting and to expanding my other knitting skills.

 

Here’s the list of knitting books that I acquired this year. I have broadly categorized them.

 

Lace Knitting 

  • Lace Knitting of Estonia by Nancy Bush. A wonderful journey into the history and knitting of this specialized form of lace. The Nupp sets this form of lace apart. I hear that it flies off the shelf of every knitting store. Even Amazon has none in stock. I made my mother the Triinu Scarf. 
  • Victorian Lace Today A combination of a picture journey documenting the evolution of Victorian Lace with wonderful full color pictures and wonderful patterns that can be used as is or combined in other forms to create your own unique pieces. I adapted one of the patterns for my wedding shawl. 
  • Lace Style Part of Interweave’s “Style” series. This book contains some great patterns and shows readers how lace can be incorporated into a variety of different garments. I made the Essential Tank Top, a beautiful piece which is stellar, and started the Lilies of the Valley Shawl (which is currently in hibernation).  
  • Heirloom Knitting gives the history of lace knitting as well as a great collection of stitches and patterns. This is a British book which can be pricey due to the exchange rate.

 Knitwear Design

  • Designing Knitwear by Deborah Newton. A great reference book on how garments are constructed with several patterns as a bonus. I use it for reference and eye candy.  
  • Knitting: A Step-By-Step Guide edited/authored by Sandy Carr and Josie May. The book was published by Portland House in 1990. I picked this hardcover book up in The Strand, a New York City book haven, for about $15 and it’s bargain! It is a wonderful of information about knitting and designing sweaters with schematics and illustrated techniques including 48 patterns for women, men and children. One drawn back of these patterns is that the yarn used is no longer available and no yardage is given which means guesstimate! While the patterns tend to be big and bold styles that haven’t ignited my desire yet, the information about design is really well organized and useful, especially when I decide to change a pattern on the fly.  
  • Barbara Walker’s A Treasury of Knitting Patterns It’s surprising that it took me this long to add this stitchnary to my collection. (Probably due to the fact that I already had a variety of other sources.) My major gripes with the book are the lack of charts since I like the visualization and the use of one swatch containing multiple stitches. I tested several patterns from this book for my mother’s black scarf. 

Designer Focused Books

  • Jean Moss’s Sculptured Knits. I found my copy of this book hidden away at a Barnes & Noble and have been in love with it ever since. It appealed to my desire to learn more about creating textures in my knitting. It has a diverse array of patterns for women, men, children and home. I love the Woodstock Sweater and Saffron Tunic that I made and have at least one pattern queued up for my husband. The one gripe I have with the book is that the sizes tend to run large and that the yarn estimates tend to be high as well. Very few of these patterns have been knit by the members of Ravelry.  
  • Viking Knits by Elsebeth Lavold. Since I was longing for this book, one of my knitting friends found it discounted on the web and sent it to me. I had seen Elsebeth Lavold’s Hild sweater at the Knitting Connection and wanted to get the pattern. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any copies at the time. I thought that it would be a great way to get into testing the cable waters of knitting. Elsebeth Lavold has studied Viking motifs and translated them into cable knitting patterns.  
  • Mason Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines. A gift from another of my knitting friends who knew that I loved Mason Dixon Knitting for its insight into how to use knitting to create everyday functional products. This second volume expands their use of knitting techniques and adds patterns for a number of sweaters and other products. While the section on fair isle knitting is enticing, I may wait another year before trying my hand at it. Please look for their Bathrobe and After Dark Nightie to appear on my 2009 Knitting List!  

For those of you who thought that I was going to write about the knitting club chic lit that has appeared, I am sorry to disappoint you. I own several of these books including one that was a gift from a client who knew that I knit. Since these books all involve some major disease or other personal crisis, I haven’t been able to pick them up.

 

What did you add to your knitting bookshelf this year?

Triinu Shawl-3 Nupp Helpful Tips

I am really enjoying knitting the Triinu Shawl from Nancy Bush’s Knitted Lace of Estonia (Word is that it flies off the shelves of yarns stores.) The joy of this project is threefold: knitting lace using a fingerling/sport weight yarn, watching the unusual red/purple colorway evolve, and conquering Estonian nupps.

Grignasco’s Top Print is composed of a twist of three different shades of the red to purple colorway. When knitted, it’s like the dots blur to create softer color changes. Added to this is the normal fun of watching the colors evolve as the piece continues to grow.

According to Knitted Lace of Estonia, nupps prove that a garment is hand made since they can not be produced on a machine! Hence, long live nupps. Nupps as I have discovered can vary in the number of stitches from five to nine. In the process of knitting this shawl, I’ve discovered a couple of tricks to keep your stitch count on track. They are:

1] When picking up the stitches for the nupps on the knit row, make sure that the stitches are relatively loose.

2] Take care when purling the nupp stitches together on the purl side so that you do not inadvertently pick up a single stitch (non-nupp loop) on either side of the cluster of nupp loops. This can result in a lower number of stitches in the pattern repeat further on. To correct this error without unknitting multiple rows, I recommend carefully unladdering the stitch containing the nupp and the additional stitch to where the nupp is purled. (Note:  This assumes that you discover this error before proceeding to your next set of pattern repeat row-wise.)  Then use a crochet hook to re-purl the nupp loops. Then continue to bring the stitches up to your current row. Once you have done this, use the crochet hook to pick up the additional stitch and bring it to your current row as well.

3] Make sure that you purl all of the nupp loops together. Otherwise, this will result in a loop that sticks out from the rest of your knitted work. If you discover this loop before you proceed to the next set of pattern rows, you can let the nupp stitch ladder down to the nupp and use a crochet hook to add the missing loop to the cluster. Otherwise, you either have to choose whether to unknit your work back to the problem or (dare I say this) pull the loop through to the back of the work and carefully sew it in place.