Monday, 25 January 2016

The GLOBAL World of Knitting

I just tracked the journey of my latest project, around the globe, and it made me think about local versus global trade.

Fiber from Alpacas raised in SOUTH AMERICA sent to MASSACHUSETTS to be transformed into hanks of hand knitting yarn, then shipped to the UK who sold it online to me, a knitter in VIRGINIA, who knit a cardigan for someone who lives in SOUTH AMERICA.  So the yarn traveled around the world and ended up where it began.

I think of the time, effort and cost of such a journey.  And I also think of the local sheep and alpaca farms and woolen mills along the East Coast of the US who do it all.  Yes, we live in a global market, but is it always better?  Sometimes, yes.  But sometimes it's a great feeling to walk down the lane wearing a sweater you made from sheep on the farm just over the ridge. 

Cabled Mittens

These stretchy cabled mittens are designed with negative ease for a clingy fit. The close fitting mittens keep hands warm and allow for more mobility since you don’t have extra fabric to slide around. The small best fits a slender hand. The difference in small and medium is only in the circumference, not length. 

Over the years, I've made at least 5 pair and I have used many types of yarn.  Using pure Alpaca, you'll get a soft, luxurious feeling mitten but it will be looser on the hand and won't wear as well.  My alpaca mittens feel warm, but look a mess after 6 years, with long globs of hair pulling out. 

Cascade 220 Superwash softens and expands a bit after washing.  When trying on the mitten while knitting it, I thought it would be too tight.  It expanded just enough to still fit well but with a bit of wiggle room. 

Skill Level - Intermediate

     Cascade Yarns 220 Superwash®
     1 ball of 220 yards (200 meters)

DK / 8 ply 

24"/32 rows = 4 inches st st

     US 4 - 3.5 mm for the cuff
     US 5 - 3.75 mm
Women's S (M)

This rewarding pattern is available as a downloadable PDF for $3.99

For more pattern details:

To start knitting now, 

At your service!  As always, my email is included in the pattern, so if you have any questions while knitting, please email me.

For more patterns, visit and
Happy Knitting!

Knitting More Than One Project at a Time

I've always been a focused knitter.  One project.  One self-inflicted deadline.  One timeframe.  Recently I stumbled across a conversation of knitters at my LSY, discussing their "projects."  Yes, they were working on more than one thing at a time.  Diane was knitting a sweater and hoped to finish it in a year.  A year!  This stressed me out greatly.  In the meantime, when she was bored with the sweater or needed a break she would work on a pair of socks, a scarf and was thinking of starting a baby blanket.  How can this be?  How can you hope to finish anything with all those projects in the works.  Then another knitter agreed.  She said she always has sock on a set of needles no matter what she's working on. 

This got me to thinking.  Is it possible that most knitters work on more than project at a time?  And why?  The more time you divert from your main project, the longer it will take to finish it and the greater the chance that you'll never finish it.  I found this whole concept stressful.  I've been knitting for ages and never considered starting something before finishing a project.  But so it is in my daily life.  I do one thing, completely, then move on.  I don't multi-task well (actually I don't multi-task).  It's not that I don't want to... I try, but I stall.  I just can't seem to switch gears like that.

If the personality trait of being "focused" versus "multi-tasking" is behind this pattern of knitting, then by evolution, most knitters today would have more than one project on their needles at a time.  I believe the two distinct groups of knitters could learn from each other.  I would love to learn to swatch a new project before the finishing on my current project was complete.  That way I'd have time to buy different yarn or needles, or make necessary changes before jumping full fledged into my next project.  Finishing something, starting a new, then realizing you don't have what you need is frustrating.  You're all ready to start your new project but these needles won't work at all and the yarn shop is closed.  Sigh. 

I believe the task for the focused knitter is to relinquish control, and just jump right in with the new project.  I believe you must not fixate over schedules and time, rather j
ust enjoy the feel of a different yarn in your fingers and go.  I believe.  I don't know for sure because I just can't work on two projects at a time.  I get into a rhythm of one type of yarn, the way it feels when it moves across the needles, the way it behaves on the needles, the tension my hands must maintain while knitting.  Switching mid-stream to different yarn, needles, patterns, can throw everything off.

Maybe one day one of you master, multi-taskers will shed some light on the subject and I'll find myself in the new majority of knitters who knit more than one project at a time. 

Monday, 18 January 2016

How Yarn is Made - Maine USA style

This video touched my heart.  It's informative and beautiful.

Watch Video

Classic Elite Inca Alpaca

I'm loving every minute of knitting with the color Cajamaica Maroon of Classic Elite's Inca Alpaca (my favorite Alpaca of all times.)  It is silky smooth and a joy to knit with. It runs through your fingers like a precious, magical fiber. It is strong, durable, soft and airy and doesn't pill.  This photo shows off the complex heathered  colors in this shade.  It was taken in filtered sunlight.  In low light the yarn looks like a glass of dark cabernet sauvignon.  LOVE.  

Old Norwegian Cast On

I've found myself in a "cast on" obsession lately. All of a sudden I feel that each new project demands new cast on techniques, sometimes two in a project. You don't want the same cast on for a ribbed cuff that you do for a buttonhole right?  So I've flipped through my reference books (yes I know, books... But I'm old school) and searched online for knitters favorites. I found an excellent tutorial by Joan of Laws of Knitting that is easy to follow, quick, and fun to watch. She speaks so clearly and explains in a way that makes you want to wiggle into a chair at her table and start knitting.

The Old Norwegian Cast On is an easy transition for those knitters who love doing Long Tail Cast On. Just a few changes to the basic movements and you're left with a stretchy cast on that is still well behaved. It has a nice edge to it but is so super stretchy that it's great for socks and even lace. I first used this for a pair of socks and fell in love. Well doesn't that look pretty?  And stretchy!  So I ventured out and after three rows of a lace pullover done with the lace cast on, I ripped it out and started over with Old Norwegian Cast On. Again. Joan to the rescue (I don't always commit to memory a new cast on after one or two watchings).

This cast on was perfect for the lace pullover!  So here it is.... A link to Joan's video of how to do the Old Norwegian Cast On. I hope you enjoy.

Joan's Old Norwegian Cast On

Saturday, 9 January 2016

New Website

Visit  the new website for more patterns and links to instructional tutorials from some of the most helpful knitters. 

Happy Knitting!

Carrying the Torch for Non-Superwash Wool

I admire well-behaved, orderly yarns.  Yarns that remain true after washing and blocking are a joy.  They retain their shape, colors and substance.  These are the yarns that created the sweaters that have been in my closet for years and years, decades even.  They may not feel the softest in the yarn shop, but they produce durable, near perfect garments.  Most soften with age after multiples washes. 

I recently wore a turtleneck, wool sweater that I knitted in 1994 from a Jaeger wool tweed that I always wore as an outdoor sweater, over a soft cotton turtleneck.  I slipped it over a long-sleeve t-shirt the other day, with the bulky wool against my neck, and worked all day without fussing with the turtleneck once.  It had softened to the point that I could wear it next to my skin. 

At one stage, I fell in love with super soft, superwash wool.  The dumpling balls were fun to squish in the store, were super soft and fluffy.  But after being left with a pile of limp, wet yarn that grew uncontrollably, my love affair dwindled.  Then the pilling began, and the shapeshifting.  Even after washing and blocking swatches. I still find that most superwash wools develop a mind of their own.  Sometimes a sweater fits perfectly, then months later the sleeves decide to grow another 3 inches in length.  I can't blame the yarn really.  It's all that manipulation and treatment that zaps the elasticity right out of the wool. 

It's almost hard to find pure wool.  It doesn't get all the attention that the new blends receive.  But it's there, of course, steadfastly occupying it's stable piece of yarn shelf real estate.  When I find a pure, wool, I smile, knowing that I will have an obedient, loyal friend.  It will stay put.  It will fit.  It will look great.  It will repel water.  It will breathe.  It will keep me warm, now and years to come.  Best of all, it will behave.