Category Archives: Ravelry

Shiri Mor’s Botanica Medallion Sweater from Vogue Knitting

   

Shiri Mors Botanica Medallion on Vogue Knitting Cover

 

Shiri Mor's Botanica Medallion on Vogue Knitting Cover

When I started knitting lace doilies, one of my friends suggested that I check out the pattern on the cover of Vogue Knitting Summer 2009. It’s an unusual pattern by Shiri Mor. It’s more of a vest than a sweater. It consists of a center circle knit in the round like a doily and a separate border knitted with a variety of lace stitches so that it is larger at the outer edge than the inner edge. 

 

Interestingly, the sample is knit in Blue Sky Skinny Dyed Cotton for summer wearing. Given the way that the pattern is knit, it is a strong candidate for a Noro type yarn which would add a wonderful pattern to the center and stripes to the outer circle.

When I first thought about doing the top, I wanted to combine several colors. I wanted to use the watery blues and greens that have been showcased in Eileen Fisher’s windows on Fifth Avenue this spring.

Due to the fact that I’ve been on a yarn diet (of course, those of you who are regular readers know that I allow myself yarn treats and occasional splurges like MDSW and Webs Tent Sale.)  Therefore I decided to use some Tahki Cotton Classic from my stash. The 4 1/2 balls of white Tahki Cotton Classic (or 432+ yards) that I got at a yarn swap  wasn’t enough to make the top.  Combined with one or two other colors, it was a good start.

Tahki Cotton Classic in White, Aqua and Blue-Green

Tahki Cotton Classic in White, Aqua and Blue-Green

After studying the Botanica Medallion pattern, I realized that it was difficult to adapt to multiple colors in the way that a vintage doily might be. Therefore, I bought 5 skeins of aqua at Purl By the Sea (or 540 yards) in Montauk.

Flower Medallion of Shiri Mor's Vogue Cardi

Flower Medallion of Shiri Mor's Vogue Cardi

32 rows of Botanica Medallion in Tahki Cotton Classic

32 rows of Botanica Medallion in Tahki Cotton Classic

While it’s a rare event that I get gauge (of course, I was using needles that were 2 sizes smaller), I set out to knit the  medallion centerpiece of the sweater. After knitting about 34 rows of the 54 rows needed, I realized that, while my gauge was on target, the piece even after blocking was way too small to work for me.

Given that the centerpiece of the Botanica Medallion consists of close stocking knit and reverse stocking knit, I chose not to increase the needle size to make the piece larger. Also, I am using 100% cotton which should be knitted tightly for garments. Therefore, I decided to look for another doily to use in lieu of the flower / starfish pattern medallion of Mor’s piece. 

Having made several different doilies, I estimate that I will need a pattern with about 70 rows. Although a pattern which allows me the flexibility to add more rows to reach my goal is optimal. Further, it’s important to take blocking into consideration. For example, my Heirloom Doily Placemats grew from 15″ to 17″ in diameter when they were blocked. I assume that the piece will grow about 10-20% due to blocking the lace (which is different from non-lace blocking.)

While some of you dear readers might be upset at this change, I am thrilled since it will allow me to use a variety of colors and to have a unique design at the center. I am thinking about making the border striped but I am not sure that I will like the color changes. I will need to test knit them.

P.S. For those NYC based knitters, Shiri Mor is teaching a class focused on making the Botanica Medallion at Knitty City.

Submitted by Knitted Yarns-Editor-in-Chief

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WWKIP-Brooklyn Bound

WWWKIP 

 

WWKIP

As a Manhattanite, I had a number of options for Worldwide Knit In Public day or WWKIP as it’s better known. Many of the choices involved sitting on the lawn of one of the many parks which I did a couple of years ago and got rather bitten. Instead I chose to join the knitters at the main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza. Since the weather was forecast to be overcast and potentially rainy, this KIP option offered a wonderful indoors alternative.

Organized by one of the librarians, WWKIP at the Brooklyn Public Library on Grand Army Plaza was a wonderful event. It took place on the plaza outside the library. There were tables for charity knitting and learning to knit. There was a raffle for lots of knitting books and yarn. There was also a live band and lots of people who turned out to have fun. Refreshments and the farmers’ market were nearby. 

WWKIP at Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza

WWKIP at Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza

View from Brooklyn Public Library

View from Brooklyn Public Library

Art decco doors to Brooklyn Public Library

Art decco doors to Brooklyn Public Library

WWKIP at the Brooklyn Public Library

WWKIP at the Brooklyn Public Library

Teaching knitting at WWKIP at the Brooklyn Public Library

Teaching knitting at WWKIP at the Brooklyn Public Library

For those of you who rarely leave Manhattan, the main branch of the library is easily accessible from the Eastern Parkway subway stop (on the number 2 or 3 train) which is one of the most beautiful stops. It’s got wonderful sculpture from the Brooklyn Museum which upstairs and the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens are next door. I was advised to use this stop since it means that you don’t need to cross Grand Army Plaza.

Submitted by Knitted Yarns Editor-in-Chief

Vogue Knitting Summer 2009 – Cover Inspiration

The cover pattern on the Summer 2009  issue of Vogue Knitting has me intrigued. After my first foray into lace knitting in the round, Amanda suggested that I try the Medallion piece since it uses circular lace. After reading through the related instructions, I discovered that it’s an amazing piece that uses a variety of stitches to make the outer border. The different stitches compensate for the difference in the circumference rather than growing by adding more stitches each row. I am planning to make the vest in a combination of two tones so that I can use some white Tahki cotton that’s in my stash.

I stopped using Vogue patterns since they tended to be very simplistic designs but, to my pleasant surprise, this issue has several patterns that I can’t wait to knit. 

As with any pattern I knit these days, I always check out the comments on Ravelry. This medallion top has almost 100 projects already. I also found out that (no surprise here!) there are corrections to the pattern. 

Submitted by Knitted Yarns Editor-in-Chief

Knitted Gifts-Spreading the Love

Many of my knitting friends are always making items that are presents for their friends, family and charity. It seems to be a way to offer their love and support. Therefore when my friend Amanda invited me to join her for her annual Webs Tent Sale pilgrimage, I wanted to make her something special to show my appreciation. As a fellow knitter who makes a variety of items with complex stitches, beading and vibrant colors, she knits wonderful shawls, sweaters, hats and handbags. Deciding what to make was a challenge. Since we were headed to Webs, the yarn mecca, bringing her some special yarn wouldn’t do. 

After much consideration and research on Ravelry, I decided to make her some hand knit washcloths. It was an idea right out of Mason Dixon Knits. It is a favorite book of mine since it opens up possibilities for projects that I might not otherwise consider such as knitted home goods. 

In fact, the first of the items that I made Amanda was the Warshrag from Mason Dixon knits. Since Amanda is a big fan of Good and Plenty, I made it in pale pine and black Rowan cotton. I think that it’s a hoot. This pattern is a great way to use two different color yarns and makes a thick material.

Good and Plenty Warshrag in Rowan Cotton

Good and Plenty Warshrag in Rowan Cotton

For the second washcloth, I used the 1911 lace star pattern. I have been enticed with circular lace patterns of late and wanted to try one on a small scale. Inspired by Brooklyn Tweeds’ Hemlock Ring, I want to make a round lace shawl using one of these old patterns with a fingering weight yarn.  Since purples and lavenders are among Amanda’s favorite colors, I used some lavender cotton from my stash.

1911 Star Doily -Knit in Lavender Cotton

1911 Star Doily -Knit in Lavender Cotton

Interestingly, I did fine starting the knitting and went full steam ahead until about row 21. My missteps included not using stitch markers to keep track of the repeats, not using the chart to help track the stitch increases, and not switching to a circular needle sooner. As a result, it took me a frustrating week of ripping and re-knitting but the result was worth it! I finished at Amanda’s house so she decided to block it herself. It’s a great first circular lace pattern (as long as you avoid my challenges!)

MDSW-Fiber Festival Here We Come!

 The Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival is held the first weekend in May in West Friendship, Maryland. It claims to be the largest fiber festival in the U.S. 

For me it’s a knitting adventure. I meet a group of other knitters at a deli at 35th Street and Sixth Avenue to board a bus that leaves the city at 7.00 a.m. sharp for the Maryland fairgrounds. This was my fifth pilgrimage to the MDSW. I join friends and others on this bus. This group started as part of BAKG, the Big Apple Knitters Group. Now  it’s a word of mouth event that fills up quickly!

We all board the bus with anticipation of the wonderful yarns and fibers that we will see and buy. There’s excitement in the air. Regardless of age, we’re like small children who have been waiting for Christmas all year. We can’t wait to get to the fairgrounds and drool over the wonderful display of goods.

Despite the clouds and forecasted poor weather, we came prepared. By the time we arrived in Maryland, the rain had already passed through. The outdoor stalls had temporary coverings. The lines for the fairgrounds were short and buses were re-routed to avoid muddy parking.

As a veteran of four previous MDSW fairs, I had a couple of early stops on my itinerary. Living in Manhattan, I have access to a wide variety of yarns. Therefore, I use festivals like MDSW to buy fibers from local producers and rare breeds. 

First on my list was Spinning Flock Farm, a small Maryland farm which has a small offering of Blue Face Leceister, which is a rare breed. I love it for its ability to show stitch definition and the soft material it makes. It’s wool that’s not itchy! Spinning Flock Farm generally uses old fashioned colors. In addition, they have a variety of other types of wool. I always buy enough wool for a sweater.

Spinning Flock Farm Sign

Spinning Flock Farm Sign

Blue Face Leiceister in Blues from Spinning Flock Farm

Blue Face Leiceister in Blues from Spinning Flock Farm

Making First Purchase at MDSW at Spinning Flock Farm

Making First Purchase at MDSW at Spinning Flock Farm

I stopped by the Ravelry gathering at the Rabbit Hatch and got my buttons. My husband had made me a tailored one to promote this blog.  The place was packed with Ravelers and their friends. Everyone is wearing knitted garments and are intoxicated with the fiber fumes.

 

Ravelry Gathering at MDSW-Distributing buttons

Ravelry Gathering at MDSW-Distributing buttons

 

Ravelry members in knitted garments

Ravelry members in knitted garments

 

 

 

Knitted Yarns Editor-in-Chief in Swallowtail Lace Shawl at MDSW

Knitted Yarns Editor-in-Chief in Swallowtail Lace Shawl at MDSW

 

Since I had visited Tess Yarns in Portland last summer and figured that I would have an opportunity to do so again this summer, I had decided not to stop by their tent. But…the burst of color lured me in. I considered buying some of her lace merino which is a great buy at $10.00 a skein. Instead I opted for two skeins of a blue-green super wash merino. It should be just enough for a long sleeve sweater if there’s not much design.

 

Tess Yarns Lace Weight Selection

Tess Yarns Lace Weight Selection

 

Tess Yarns selection by color not fiber!

Tess Yarns selection by color not fiber!

 

Melinda (aka Tess) taking the money at MDSW

Melinda (aka Tess) taking the money at MDSW

 

 

 

On the recommendation of a fellow lace knitter, I made my way to Spirit Trail Fiberworks. It was a small booth in the main barn filled with color. I found a wonderful wine colored merino lace weight. I would have bought 2 skeins but alas it was the only one in that colorway. I am hoping to make a small shoulderette from one of the recent Knitty patterns.

The most unusual find was a blend including dog hair (yes you read that correctly). At $24.00 for 200 yards, I decided it was a bit too exotic to try. It was made by a small mill where a woman comber her dog team and they used the hair.

This year, I was attracted to the Wensleydale Long Wool again. Last year, I came close to purchasing some for its amazing luster. One of my fellow knitters has been making a shawl from some olive colored wool. Since I still worried about the “itchiness factor”, I only bought enough for a shawl as a test. It’s a deep, rich grey. It breaks my rule of only buying fromlocal producers since it’s from Yorkshire, England but I am hoping that it makes a wonderful shawl for the fall.

 

Flying Fibers is a family business

Flying Fibers is a family business

 

In addition to the fiber buying frenzy, there are wonderful exhibits of hand made goods. I use these pieces for future inspiration. 

Of course, there’s the usual fair fare. It’s a combination of lamb dishes mixed with fresh lemonade, ribbon potatoes and ice cream.

 

MDSW ice cream offering

MDSW ice cream offering

Ribbon potatoes are a big hit at MDSW

Ribbon potatoes are a big hit at MDSW

 

Then there are the animals who are really the center of the show (although unlike Rhinebeck, I don’t go out of my way to walk through the barns.)

 

Sheep taking a rest from the excitement at MDSW

Sheep taking a rest from the excitement at MDSW

 

Alpacas shorn for the MDSW

Alpacas shorn for the MDSW

 

 

For entertainment, there were several groups of musicians playing folk music. It’s a good place to park the less wool-friendly members of your group.

 

Musicians play folk music at MDSW

Musicians play folk music at MDSW

More musicians attract listeners at MDSW

More musicians attract listeners at MDSW

 

By 4.30p.m., my New York bound knitting friends wander back to the bus. Each ladened with packages and feeling happy. The bus home is an exchange of seeing what types of fibers and colors we have purchased. Everyone has found some wonderful wool to make a stunning piece. Tired from the adventure, many sleep or knit as we motor back to New York City.

Submitted by: Knitted Yarns Editor-in-Chief

F is also for Fiber Friends!

F is for Fiber Friends. While I am indebted to the animals whose fleeces (yet another “F” word!) become the beautiful fibers that I knit, fiber friends refers to actual people.   What would we do without them? 

One of my UWS Knitting friends!

One of my UWS Knitting friends!

 

Fiber friend hiding beneath cowl in Noro sweater at LYS (The Point NYC)

Fiber friend hiding beneath cowl in Noro sweater at LYS (The Point NYC)

Knitting friend casting on at LYS (The Point NYC)

Knitting friend casting on at LYS (The Point NYC)

 My fiber friends and I connect over our mutual love of yarn and knitting. We’ve met in person at knitting circles, LYS and other knitting meetups. We’re always there for each other in good times and bad times. Whether we know each other via real life or the web, we’re friends. We’re a wonderful, precious part of each others’ lives.

We accept each other regardless of whether we’ve just started knitting or have been knitting for ages. We accept each other whether we use amazing, expensive fibers like cashmere or inexpensive acrylic. 

The ties to our fiber friends are strong when there’s yarn at hand to be purchased or traded or just plain admired. They are there to egg you onto to that next purchase regardless of the size of your stash.

The best part is that they’re always there willing to lend a hand and listen. It doesn’t matter whether your boss was in a bad mood or you had a major misfortune. These relationships are worth more than gold.

For me, my fiber friends have been a treasure!

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