Monday, February 25, 2013

Finished: The Leopard Hat

Subtle? Nope!


Just the ticket for cheering up the last weeks of winter.

More here.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Have You Had Lunch? "The Sandwich Theory of Colour Selection"

I made a presentation a couple of weeks ago at the KW Knitter's Guild meeting, on the topic of colour.

Colourwork is a topic that worries people. I get amazingly experienced knitters in my Intro to Colourwork classes.  I always start the class by asking if anyone has tried working with multiple colours in any way, and usually at least half the class has. Indeed, there's usually a couple of people who've made entire Fair Isle sweaters....
"But I'm not sure I'm doing it right." 
Even knitters who've done colourwork in the past feel like they need help, because they want to do it better.

I get it – bad colourwork is an awful experience. It’s not the easiest type of knitting to do, and the results can be either terrible, or just plain disappointing.

The problem is that it’s not just about being able to read a pattern and successfully work the stitches... and that it itself is challenging, when you're trying not to tangle (or to tangle appropriately)...

... but it’s also about TASTE. In that, it's about appropriate colour choices. It always makes me worry: are those good colours? Are they the right colours for me? Does it look good?

And for me, that's where I start to worry. When I gave my talk at the KW Guild, I focused on building confidence. Confidence with the techniques, sure, but perhaps more importantly for me, confidence about choosing colours.

The lovely Annie Bee, member of the KW Guild, (and fellow rescue hound owner), had written about colour theory on the Rock + Purl blog a couple of weeks ago. I thought her post was great, but I know that even using the words "colour theory" still frightened some people.

Annie, thrilled with the great response to her post to the Rock + Purl blog (well deserved, it's terrific) was inspired to start a series of posts about colour on her own blog. And she asked for guest contributors.  Always seeking listeners for my myriad opinions, I leapt at the opportunity.

And so: The Sandwich Theory of Colour Selection. Make sure you're not hungry before you read it.

Monday, February 18, 2013

New personal website!

I've finally properly put together my personal website -

Go visit! 

You can see my Twitter feed there, get in touch with me, read my blog posts, and see a list of all my upcoming classes and events.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

File under: Crazy

I have a bit of thing for leopard prints.

A couple of weeks ago the lovely Sue brought this pattern to my attention: Stray. It's a stranded colourwork hat, in leopard print. 

I bought the pattern that day, and immediately went stash diving for yarn.

Well, naturally, I didn't have much of a selection of yarn in that gauge, but I did manage to find three skeins of Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light, a yarn I love very much. It's warm, and blocks beautifully, and it has a great little halo I thought would be nice for this design, to suggest a bit of 'furriness'.

The problem, however, was that I didn't have anything like appropriate colours. Oh sure, I had a nice medium brown - but the contrast colour choice was limited. I had a couple of shades of orange. (This should not come as a surprise to anyone who knows me.)

So I did what any sensible knitter would do: I cast on anyway.

So herewith, an orange leopard print hat.

I've been working on it as I've been riding Go Transit this week, and it's been an ideal travel project. It needs a lot of attention, but it's not a big project.

The colours, however, aren't the craziest thing about this project.

It's that it's THREE COLOUR stranded colourwork.  Yes, three colours per round.

It is one of the most fun projects I've ever knitted, but it is a hair, shall we say... 'toothy'...

If you're looking for a challenging and engaging colourwork project... if you're feeling emboldened by my presentation last Tuesday... or if you just need something to do to frighten your other knitter friends... Stray is it!

(P.S. Fab project bag is from Pip N Milly Creations - I adore this design for colourwork as the yarnballs sit neatly side-by-side in the flat bottom, and the clear front means I can more easily keep track of potential tangles.)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

On Knitting in Public

I had an interesting discussion with a couple of newer knitters last week.

I've been knitting seriously and shamelessly since the mid 1990s. And with that, comes knitting in public. I knit in public all the time - most often when commuting around the city on the TTC.

I used to knit on the TTC every weekday when I still had a day job at rush hour, and on the New York subway when I lived there. Sometimes, the vehicles were a bit crowded, but working on a sock project doesn't need much room.

picture courtesy Brent Gilliard, on a Creative Commons license
Now I use the TTC at least four or five times a week, most often on streetcars.

Streetcars - also known as trams - are, IMHO, the best public transport vehicle for knitting. They have them in various cities around the world, and I've personally ridden them in Toronto, Boston, Stockholm, Helsinki, Portland, OR, and Manchester - all while I'm knitting.

Streetcars are great for knitting because you're most often above ground - natural light! And if what you're knitting doesn't require much attention, there's always something good to look at. Streetcars are significantly steadier and smoother than buses, being on rails. I tend to motion sickness, so this is a huge advantage to me. It's also useful if you're trying to balance a chart on your lap.

The other knitters in the conversation are newer knitters, and have taken up transit-knitting only recently. They were telling me that they feel that knitting on the TTC draws attention - that they get stared at.

I've had the odd odd exchange with an interested fellow passenger, it's true, but I think that I've been knitting on public transport for so long that not only do I not notice whether people are paying attention to me (usually because I'm paying attention my knitting), but I'm not even sure I remember how people reacted to me when I wasn't knitting. I can't remember the last time I was on/in any kind of vehicle without knitting...

I'm riding trains a few times this week - Tuesday heading to Kitchener Waterloo to speak to my friends at the Guild today, and Saturday off to Spun in Burlington. You know I'll be knitting up a storm the entire way.

Do you get stared at when you knit in public? Do you notice?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Mod Squad Mods

It's always a thrill to see an FO from one of my patterns; even more of a thrill when someone takes the idea and runs with it.

Long-time friend and knitter W. was intrigued by the slip stitch colourwork technique in my Mod Squad hat, but she was unsure if she wanted to knit a hat. Her daughters have lots of big curly hair, so they like headbands.

So W. made headbands.

These are the second and third.

More are on the needles as we speak. Love it!

W. has used Tanis Fibre Art's Green Label aran weight, worked on 4.5mm needles. The blue is the Cobalt  colour, the purple one is the Grape colour. Both worked with Tanis's natural as the contrast colour.

If you want to make your own headband variant, follow the pattern as written until you've complete 2 repeats of the 12-row pattern, and works Rows 1-6 once more.
Knit 1 round, purl 1 round.
Work a decrease round as follows:
Decrease round, size small only: (K2, k2tog, k3, k2tog, k2, k2tog) 8 times around. 80 sts.
Decrease round, size large only: (K3, k2tog, k2, k2tog, k3, k2tog) 8 times around. 88 sts.
Purl 1 round, knit 1 round.
BO purlwise.

Buy the Mod Squad Pattern - On Ravelry, On Patternfish