Tuesday, April 26, 2011

DKC Frolic: Upcoming Classes & Shopping List

Just a reminder: I'm teaching at the Frolic this weekend.

There are a few spaces left in two of my classes: Custom Fit Socks, and Crochet for Knitters.

You can register at the door - if you do plan to, please check the class info regarding homework.

Crochet for Knitters
Even if you’re not interested in doilies and afghans, crochet is an
incredibly useful skill for the knitter. This two-hour session teaches
you how to bring the power of the crochet hook to your knitting—to
pick up dropped stitches and fix mistakes, for painless seaming, for
creating decorative edgings and joins, and for the mysterious and
wonderful provisional cast-on.

Custom Fit Socks
Liberate yourself from pattern books! Learn how to create a topdown
or toe-up sock pattern for any yarn, and for any foot, and how
to make your own design customizations like pattern stitches and

As to my shopping list... Because I'm teaching, I've got precisely 2 half hour breaks for shopping during the day.... It does keep one focused and within a budget.

The key item on my list for this year is more tools for my mini-knitting kit. I was shopping for this stuff last year, but am still seeking a couple of key items.

I use a little Altoids gum tin, and in it I keep:
-a bunch of safety pins and markers (on a little ring)
-a smallish fabric tape measure
-two crochet hooks - a bamboo one, about 3mm, and the smallest from the Lacis Ebony "Wanda" set (near the bottom of this page). The Lacis one is very clever, being double-ended. It's actually a set of three, but the larger two are too long to fit in my tin.
-a pair of "Puppy Snips" mini scissors.
-two of my beloved coil-less safety pins, for use as holders
-a darning needle - one of the bent-tip Clover needles I love so much
-and unnecessarily but rather adorably, a pair of 3mm 3 inch long bamboo straight knitting needles.

This is the tin I keep in my purse, for when I don't have my full knitting bag and toolkit with me. My purse is pretty small, so I don't want a giant tin, and I don't need the full set of tools, but I am trying to collect the key items.

I'm still seeking a retractable tape measure, and I'd love a little ruler of some kind. I'd actually also like a slightly larger container - not deeper or wider, but definitely a bit longer. The larger Wanda crochet hooks, and the crochet hook/cable needle combo version are a little longer than 4 inches.

The search continues.

I'm also, as always, looking for new and interesting (or indeed old and interesting) books. I'm sure Marsha at Needle Arts Book Shop will have something to tempt me.

Even if you're not in any of my classes, I hope to see you there.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Sock Summit 2011

You might recall that in August of 2009 I made the pilgrimage to Portland, OR, to attend the inaugural Sock Summit.

I worked in the booth of my lovely friends at Signature Needle Arts. I got to knit socks all day long, drinking strong Pacific Northwest-style coffee, next to a team of lovely people, in a giant room full of sock knitters. Just about the dream business trip.

Well, this year, it's going to be even better.

Busier. But better.

For I am teaching!

I am thrilled to be in such great company, sharing the air and schedule with true knitting legends.

My three classes:
Two Socks in One: The War & Peace Method
Challenge yourself! Beat Second Sock Syndrome! Amaze your friends! This class teaches the legendary technique for simultaneously knitting two socks on the same needles – one inside the other, as mentioned by Tolstoy in War and Peace. In the class, we’ll work a pair of mini socks to practice this fascinating technique, and we’ll get you ready to tackle your first full size pair. The design we work is top-down, but the techniques I teach are easily applied to toe-up knitting. You’ll leave with a pattern and full instructions.

Designing Your Own Custom-Fit Socks
Liberate yourself from pattern books and ensure your socks really fit properly! Learn how to create a completely custom top-down or toe-up sock pattern – for any yarn, and any foot – or how to modify an existing one. We’ll cover knee socks, and discuss special fit requirements like high arches, flat feet, skinny and not-so-skinny ankles. I will show you how to deal with pattern stitches like lace, cables and colorwork, and how to manage differences in gauge and fabric stretch. You’ll leave the class with a set of templates and guidelines for all your sock-fitting needs.

Writing Up An Awesome Sock Pattern
You’ve designed a great sock, and now it’s time to write up the pattern to share with other knitters. This class will show you how to write up a sock pattern that any knitter can follow. We will discuss sizing and fit, addressing when and how to provide multiple sizes. I will share secrets for handling pattern stitches, both written and charted, and provide tips for creating easy-to-read charts. I'll also discuss needle choice and configuration (4 or 5 DPNs, 2 circulars and magic loop), covering when it’s best to be specific, and how to convert from one needle setup to another. And of course, I'll share with you the three key tricks to make sure both knitters and technical editors love you!

This one is designed to be a nice complement to Amy Singer's "Making the Next Monkey" class, which talks about how to design a really great sock, and make it attractive for publishing.

I can't wait to see my friends again, share some of my knitting tips and opinions, and expand my knowledge and stash....

More info about my classes here, and about the event here.

Registration will be opening shortly.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Lace 102 Sampler Pattern Now Available

By request, I have put together a pattern and tutorial for my Lace 102 sampler.

This sampler is designed to be a learning tool for lace knitters, as an option for those who want to expand their skills but can’t make it to one of my classes in person.

It features a variety of lace stitch patterns, all challenging in different ways, to allow you to experiment and learn some new techniques.

I’ve used some all-over patterns, and some single lace motifs worked on a plain background; I’ve used some lace with a stocking stitch ground (that is, with purl WS), some with a garter stitch ground (with knit WS); there are patterns worked on one side only, and patterns worked on both sides. There are patterns with variable numbers of stitches, and a pattern that featured delayed decreases. I’ve used some tricky and unusual stitches like s2kpo and p2tog tbl. And there are the often-feared Estonian nupps.

The sampler ends with an applied edging.

Charts and written instructions are provided for all pattern stitches. And each individual pattern section includes detailed instructions on how to work it, and tips & tricks for handling the particular challenge of that pattern.

Available from Ravelry and Patternfish.

In pieces:

It begins with the classic and elegant Shetland Razor Shell - interesting because of the specific central double decrease, and challenging because it's not easy to place markers.

Then there's an Estonian butterfly, with nupps. Interesting and challenging because of... well, the nupps.

And a classic two-sided lace, a garter faggoting stitch. Decreases worked over yarnovers - fun!

Above that, there is a Shetland Fern, which takes an otherwise straightforward lace motif and adds patterned wrong side rows.

And then Little Fountain, which introduces delayed decreases - that is, decreases worked a row or two after their corresponding yarnovers - making the pattern a challenge to count and keep track of.

Above Little Fountain is a classic and elegant lace leaf, which seriously messes with your stitch count... 1 stitch increased to 9 and then back down again.

Above the Leaf is a lace ladder featuring the pesky double yarnovers.

And then there's a Gardenia flower, which has more wrong-side patterning and some tricksy decreases... p2tog tbl, anyone?

And then of course, an applied edging to finish.

Lots to play with, and lots to learn, in an evening or two's knitting. Think of it as a sandbox for lace knitters.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Knitter's Frolic: Classes

I say this every year, but I really do mean it:

The Downtown Knit Collective's Knitter's Frolic is one of my favourite events of the year. It's a full day of shopping and teaching fun.

I'm teaching three classes:

Crochet for Knitters
This class is for knitters who don't have any crochet experience at all. The focus is on how to use a crochet hook to assist with and embellish your knitting: as edgings, as seams, as structural supports and reinforcements, and as a quick and easy way to lengthen too-short sleeves.

Two Socks on Two Circulars

Banish second sock syndrome, and make sure your two socks match exactly by working them at the same time. Suitable for both toe-up and top-down sock knitters, we work one of my signature "training sock" projects to work through the process and get you comfortable. Suitable for knitters who have some sock knitting experience.

And Designing Your Own Custom-Fit Socks
If you're going to go to the trouble of knitting socks, let's make sure they fit you well. I'll cover both top-down and toe-up methods, showing how to take a couple of key measurements and create a sock that actually fits, no matter what size your feet are. I cover special fit requirements like skinny and not-so-skinny ankles, flat feet and high arches, and how to elegantly handle two different size feet. I'll also share tips for resizing an existing sock pattern. Suitable for knitters who have some sock knitting experience.

See this page for registration information.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Work of Art

A student from one of my recent project class, Will, has shared with me the photos of his finished project.

He was a new knitter when he started the class, and had a very specific project in mind: a scarf for his girlfriend, themed for the country of her birth, Finland.

Specifically, he wanted to knit a scarf with the Finnish flag and "a few bars of the Finnish national anthem" on it. He even had a chart, carefully prepared in MS Excel.

Now, I'm not a good poker player, so I suspect I might have blanched a little when he told me this. I immediately envisioned a lot of very complex Fair Isle and Intarsia.

I asked a couple of questions about his knitting skill level, and his tolerance for insanity, and we landed very quickly on duplicate stitch as the solution. To knit a plain white scarf, and duplicate stitching the rest.

He tackled the project with aplomb, skill, and a careful hand, and the result is absolutely stunning.

I believe this is a birthday gift, but I, frankly, would say that this is engagement-worthy. I know that she's a knitter, and I certainly would accept something like this in lieu of a ring. If this lovely lady doesn't spend the rest of her life with Will, I (and I suspect he) will be sorely disappointed.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Busy weekend: Spring Creativ Festival Talks & then to New Hamburg!

This coming weekend - Friday April 15 & 16 - it's the spring Creativ Festival in Toronto.

I'm appearing there on the Friday, giving three talks - free with admission!

Yarn Knowledge
Mystified by all these terms - double knitting, worsted, aran? Unsure whether fingering is a potato or a yarn? Wondering why you should care about whether a yarn is superwash or not? This session will explain yarn terminology, help you understand yarn substitution and gauge, and make you a more confident yarn shopper and knitter.

Cast Ons & Cast Offs
Improve your knitting and expand your knowledge by trying and adding some new cast-ons and cast-offs to your repertoire. See which cast-on is best for different types of projects. Plus, I'll share tips to help you achieve that elusive loose cast-off.

Fibre Care You’ve spent a lot of time knitting or crocheting your garment, now let’s make sure it stays beautiful forever. Discover how to properly wash and store your finished items, whether wool, cotton or a man-made fibre. Kate Atherley will explain all those strange symbols on the yarn labels, share tips for moth-proofing and show you how proper fibre care can improve the look of the finished items. Samples for everyone courtesy of my good friends at Soak.

I'll also be in the A Needle Pulling Thread booth, showing off some of the projects from previous issues, and perhaps even giving you a sneak preview of some projects from upcoming issues.

More details on the talks here, on the show here.

If you're there, come and say hello!

Immediately afterwards, I am heading out to New Hamburg for a last hurrah/round of classes at the old location of Shall We Knit. I shall very much miss teaching in the sock yarn room, but I'm excited about their new location. I think they'll still try to put me in with the sock yarn, as they know they I always end up buying some...

Friday, April 08, 2011

Kureyon Colour 242: The Perfect Kate Yarn?

I've been working with at lot of Noro Kureyon in colour 242 of late...

I love it because, well, it's Noro... but specifically because it's got precisely and exactly the colours I wear in it: black, orange, red, a bluey-grey and a smattering of green.

First up, there's a crochet scarf, in 2 skeins of the sock weight....

Many props to Tamara and Jennifer for their help with this project - turning me into a real crocheter in the process.

And there's a skirt!

Further details on the skirt next week.

And then, of course, there's what to do with the leftovers of the skirt... I have 49gm (!) left over. The skirt took 3.02 balls of the Kureyon, and I figure there's just enough left for a hat, to match the scarf.

I had the brilliant idea of making a short-row stripes hat in the style of my beloved Lizard Ridge - turns out, I'm not the first to have the idea. Some fun versions of just such a thing on Ravelry.

My other thought is to do a plain black vest and use the Kureyon as stripes.

In the meantime, until I decide, there's a new lace design on my needles, tentatively titled Wings of The Dove.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Update re: Lace Knitting Class

A lovely commenter, Rosie, asks if I'll be selling the sampler pattern as sort of remote lace class.

I can do that!

Email me at kate at wisehildaknits dot com.