Wednesday, July 30, 2008

From Around The World

I have a new friend. Tinkingbell had a contest a while back, asking us to tell her about our favorite Science Fiction/Fantasy, and to my great surprise, I was one of the winners.

My package arrived at work while I was away on vacation. It was waiting in my in-box when I got in, and I ignored no less than 150 e-mails (honestly, 150 in two weeks?) to open it up and get photos.

For some reason I love Air Mail stickers… don’t ask me why.

What was inside was far far better than the stickers.


There was a copy of Yarn Magazine, issue 10. A postcard with some of the loveliest sheep you’ve ever seen in your life. And two balls of Pattons Australia Patonyle, an amazingly soft sock yarn, which Tinkingbell tells me wears like iron.

She wrote:
Australian Patons (not related to US Patons) have always made Patonyle - my first pair of socks ever were made of bright yellow patonyle and have gone on for more than 7 years!

Several years ago they started only producing bleuch colours or fakeisle and sales dropped off, so the then manager decided (as his last act in Australia) to discontinue Patonyle. The new marketing manager for the group joined Ravelry and faced a barrage of complaints - constantly - from the entire Australian Knitters group (1100 of us) but also from every LYS and all the little old ladies who had been using it for years and years. after 6 months of us moaning they gave in!!

Patonyle is being re-launched - hopefully with new colours and as an export line! - You have some of the pre-recontinued Patonyle - great stitch definition, soft and very hard wearing!

I’m so excited to have new yarn to try… although mercy knows I was in no danger of running out of sock yarn!

Inside the magazine was a short article by my benefactor.


She writes about the virtues of the purl stitch, and her confusion about purling-hate, which is a sentiment we have in common. I don’t know where it comes from, or why people seem to dislike it so very much.

I took the whole package to knit-night with me on Monday, and passed it around to the sound of much ooh-ing and ah-ing. (It’s small of me, I know, but I do like inspiring envy sometimes.)

So there you have it. A package which traveled from one hemisphere to the other, from winter to summer, from one knitter to another. Once again I find myself marveling at how small the world can look through the prisms of knitting and the internet. If someone had tried to tell me four years ago that not only would I be purchasing outrageous quantities of very fine yarn, but establishing friendships with people all over the world, I would have laughed myself silly. How things change.

Thank you, Tinkingbell, so much.

Friday, July 11, 2008

I Have A Niece!

My brother called me just after 7 am. A tiny new woman came into the world at 4:30 this morning

Mother and baby are both doing well. She’s 6 lbs 10oz, standing 20" tall, and waiting for her name. My brother’s about 12 hours away, getting his truck loaded up and heading home.

I knew I should have sent that package overnight!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


OK, maybe that’s kind of a cheap title, considering the content, but the heat around here is frying all my brain cells, so you’ll have to forgive me.

So, surprises…

Surprise number one:

I received a package in the mail the other day from Brat Knits. She’d had a contest in her blog, giving away home-made soap, and I lucked out.


Hand-made tallow-based soap with tea tree oil in it. My laundry room has never smelled so good… it almost makes me want to scrub my counters. Almost.

Thank you, it’s fabulous!

The other surprises are of the baby jacket variety. My sister-in-law is due with her second daughter any second now, and in keeping with my tradition of leaving things until the very last possible second, I sent her two of the Elizabeth Zimmerman Baby Surprise Jackets today.

Jacket number one was knit with Regia’s Kaffe Fassett sock yarn, on US 2’s.


It measures 11.5 inches from cuff to cuff, and is 8 inches from top to bottom. Definatley new-born size.

Jacket number two was knit with Plymouth Jelli Beenze on US 6’s.


It measures 18.5 inches from cuff to cuff and is 11.5 inches from top to bottom. Toddler sized, a jacket for the baby to grow into.

Both of these jackets have the same number of rows and stitches in them, but the size difference tickles me to death for some reason. Not to mention that the garter-stitch squishiness is lovely.

I’m not the only one who’s been working on things for the new baby. My mother sews and quilts (she put the buttons on the sweaters, a task I seem to fail utterly at), and she put together this fabulous quilt




No pastels from this side of the family, no way!

I gave her my swatch of the Regia yarn, and she took it with her to the store when she bought fabric for the quilt. I think she did a beautiful job putting the colors together, and the woman at the store had never seen someone trying to match yarn colors with fabrics.


She cut her own stencils for the stars, and then machine-quilted them.



After the baby is born, Mom will embroider her full name and birthdate into the back, along with a dedication.

I’m so impressed with quilters. Really, I’m only safe around knitting needles and blunt darning needles. I tend to poke myself with sewing needles, and I’d probably sew my fingers together if I tried to use a sewing machine.



I must say, though, that Mom and and make excellent collaborators!

I just hope the jackets arrive at their destination before the baby does… do you think I should have sent them overnight?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Lace Class

So, since I promised you a post about the lace knitting class I took at the Black Sheep Gathering, here I am.

It was a six-hour course billed as “Essentials of Knitted Lace,” and as soon as I saw it in the catalogue I wanted to take it. Space was limited to 15 students, and seats would be given in order of registration… I had my check in the mail the very day registrations opened. I would have sent it priority overnight if I'd have thought it would make a difference.

Then came the fun of waiting several weeks for confirmation. I was in a bit of a tizzy, and the day I got the notification that I’d gotten in, I did a bit of a victory dance by the mailbox. Extensive YouTube searches have thankfully uncovered no video documentation of booty-shaking on my part, so at least I know my neighbors didn’t get me on tape.

Saturday 21 June, there I was checking in at 8 am, with a notebook, a bottle of water, and most every knitting needle I own. I was excited and nervous and absolutely ready to go.

I’ve been buying lace weight yarn as if I were afraid there was never going to be any more, and I took this class hoping for a good grounding in technique and methodology. Wow, did I ever get it.

The class was taught by Galina Alexandrovna Khmeleva of Skaska Designs, and one of the first things she told us was that she usually taught this material in a two-day session. We were liable to feel a little drained at the end of the day.

I learned a lot about Orenburg lace knitting that day. There is no purling in the Orenburg tradition, and no SSK decreases either. It’s all knit stitch, yarn-over, k2tog and k3tog. I’ve never really had the “purling hate” I hear about so much, but it is a little comforting to not have to keep track of directional decreases.

Galina had brought enough yarn samples of Jaggerspun Zephyr that we all got to take several with us. I picked these:


She got us right to work, doing the long-tail cast-on over two needles and starting in on some motif charts. One of the first personal lessons I got was about gauge. I was working with US 4 needles, and she pointed out that the holes in my sample were large enough to get the tips of my fingers through. Granted, I have small hands, but she advised me to switch to US 3’s instead.

And here’s the difference:


The bottom pattern, called Strawberry, was knit on the 4’s, and the top one, called Honeycomb, was done on 3’s. It’s easy to forget what a difference 0.25 mm can make, but there it was right in front of me.

After our lunch break, we cast on seven stitches and started working on an edging pattern. I got three points done and hope to finish the rest of a practice piece soon.


Orenburg shawls all begin with an edging, and when it’s the proper length you work some short rows to miter the corner and then pick up the slip stitches along the edge. After that, you pick up stitches along the cast-on edge, miter that corner, and carry on knitting your shawl. You work the border along with the body, and then knit the top border along with the top of the body. In the end, you graft the last corner, and there you have it.

It sounds more complicated than it really is, but it does demand a certain amount of attention, as well as a good eye for charts.

Galina was right; I felt drained at the end of they day, but I was also elated to have taken the class. I was so excited that I went home and started working with some cheap baby yarn and US 6 needles. I knit for far too long that evening, but I just couldn’t seem to stop myself. I wanted to use all my new skills and get them into muscle memory before I forgot the sound of Galina’s voice.

I got tired of the baby yarn though, it just wasn’t as nice to knit with as the Zephyr. So I’ve been working my way through the charts Galina included in her handouts.


I couldn’t resist going to the Skaska Design booth and picking up copies of Galina’s books, Gossamer Webs and The Gossamer Webs Design Collection. The first book has many stories from individual knitters, as well as a description of spinning the goat down these shawls were originally made from. The second book is all about the patterns. I recommend both of them quite highly.

Also, for all the lace knitters out there, if you ever get the chance to take a class from Galina, run, do not walk, to get registered. You won’t regret it, and you won’t forget it.