Saturday, December 29, 2007

Apollo Vest

What do you do if you buy some very expensive yarn and fall in love with it,but don't know what to make of it? I bought 2 skeins of Apollo yarn, a silk and wool luxurious blend hand dyed by Great Adirondack yarns....but didn't have a plan for it! So, I made a shawl. But I don't really wear shawls, so I ripped it out and made a scarf. But the yarn was too pretty for a scarf, so I frogged that. Then I realized nothing would satisfy me until I had a vest, so I ponied up for a third skein, and made a simple lace vest. Size 10.5 needles, raglan construction, v neck. I put a bit of feather and fan on the bottom edge instead of ribbing. Very comfy to wear, warm and not too heavy. The beautiful felted and beaded pin is a gift from my talented friend Benedicte Caneill, who makes amazing quilts, has a glorious singing voice, and is a careful and enthusiastic teacher. I'm so lucky to have her as a friend...

Sea Lettuce Scarf

In my work at Sticks and Strings yarn shop ( ), I always love to play in the Koigu yarn. We sell a huge assortment of this yarn, and the colors are fantastic. One of the best patterns for playing with this lovely merino yarn is Lucy Neatby's Sea lettuce scarf, which has a very clever short row pattern that is interesting to knit and fun to wear. Here is my version of the scarf: I love how it folds up into a lovely cylinder. I knit it on size 7 needles, in 4 skeins of Koigu Kersti, a merino crepe yarn that is simply delightful...

Rhinebeck Sweater Updated

I finally finished this sweater sometime in December! At first, I hurried to get it done for Rhinebeck, but missed that deadline. I knit some other stuff, then it got cold, so I went back and finished this one. I lengthened it to below hip length, added some more cables and finished with a wide rib. I had a blast playing with the shaping and now I enjoy the warmth and snug fit! Even though the variegated yarn obscures the cables, I love the complex riot of color and design...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Rhinebeck 2007 Sweater WIP

I thought it might be fun to design and execute a sweater to wear to Rhinebeck this year. I had purchased 10 skeins of Claudia's Hand Painted Merino in a blue-green colorway that spoke to me and was aptly named "Caribbean Blue". This yarn sat in my stash for a while, until August when it was time to knit it.

An amalgam of many influences;I have been knitting a cardigan with cabled front, triangular upper back and shoulders, short row modular engineered to raglan form. Begun during a very long car ride to Vienna, Virginia for a Phideaux concert August 11, 2007 when I needed to start something fast. I began with a short stretch of the cable, then turned and started a triangular shape. I thought this might work, but decided to short-row it into a raglan shape so I could knit the body and sleeves on the straight of grain instead of bias. I liked how it was coming out, but I decided to use cables to nip in the waist and wrists a bit, and to see if I could make it flare at the hem by using some of the cable ideas in Debbie Bliss's Silver Belle sweater ( in VK 25th anniversary issue). I'm hoping to finish by Rhinebeck Weekend, and also hoping it will be wearable. Knitting is always exciting that way for me, as I kind of make it up as I go along! I plan to add a button band or zipper to the front, but I only have 6 nights of knitting left to do it! Wish me luck!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Leaf Lace Vest

After having a fun time knitting the Leaf Lace Shawl by Evelyn Clark from Fibertrends, I wondered if I could adapt the lace to a vest. I was enjoying knitting with the yarn, Schaefer's Laurel, a worsted weight cotton in interesting variegated colors, on size 9 needles, and now that I had the tension numbers, I could use that info to make a raglan vest. The result took one skein of Laurel ( 400 yards), and I knitted it entirely during the week I spent flying to Los Angeles and touring around Southern California to deliver my son Michael to his freshman year at Caltech. Lots of good memories are encoded in every stitch.

Folk Art Gala

The Folk Art Museum gave a lovely reception last night, despite the rain, which was well attended and gave some of us an opportunity to view the works created and meet some of the artists. it was a fun event, with lots of wine, yummy shrimp and wraps, and a docent-led tour of the amazing exhibit in the Museum. It is worth seeing, to appreciate the artistry and the history of the wood carvers and the papercutters who immigrated here and created the Coney Island Carousel among other works. I wasn't allowed to take photos in the Museum itself, and so I only obtained shots of the cases in the front hall and some of our works on display in the Lobby. A fully illustrated catalogue of the 32 works is being produced, however, and Ethan Gold, , who coordinated the event, promised that each artist would receive one at the end of the month. The actual auction is later this month, details at

Here is a photo of me next to the case holding my Lion.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Carousel Lion

The Lion has landed! He is done, in all his glittery beaded splendor. I painted the sides and back with orange acrylic paint, and gave the beads a final coat of glue. I'm pleased with the result, and I hope the patrons at the Museum of Folk Art enjoy him. I still need to affix a hanging apparatus i the back, but as this is a holiday, the stores are closed. He was fun to make, and I enjoyed the result a lot, despite using messy glue and paint. Will I do this again? Maybe...but I'd rather knit.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Lion in Summer part 2

Today the cats helped me finish the main beading of the lion. They were a great help, and stayed with me the whole afternoon. I decided to go with my idea of a fanciful carousel animal, and put a green and blue "blanket" under the saddle. I had some orange beads already strung, so used them for the front shoulders, but then came to the end of my stash of pre-strung orange beads. I thought it might be a nice idea to do the rest of the body in a random texture of orange irridescent beads, and so covered the rest with those. The feet needed some booties, and some yellow socks, so those were glued on also. I like the whole effect, literal and pretty as it is. As I was glueing, I thought of the many other possibilities for decoration, political statements and other directions I could have gone, but an orange lion seemed right for this rainy day, so here he is. Laying the beads in a uniform fashion took a huge amount of time,but it is fun to see how the patterns develop. I'm thinking I might paint the edges with black paint to give the piece a frame of sorts. Beading the edges seems impractical, and besides I used up all of the bead colors for the mane and the front quarters. Next time I'm going to work on the mouth and fill in the gaps. here is a detail of the piece:

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Carousel Lion-first day

The Museum of Folk Art ( ) in New York City has a fundraiser auction each year. Last year, they sent interested artists a blank doll and asked us to decorate it however we wished. I had fun creating a mermaid in a knitted skin, which was auctioned off. The event is a lot of fun; some of the artwork is quite elaborate and clever. This year the theme is "Carousel" and each artist was sent a wooden animal to decorate however we wish; the deadline however is in one month, so there isn't a lot of time to play around! I got the idea to bead my lion from my husband, who brainstormed with me about it when I opened the giant box. The piece is 21 X 15 inches, and about an inch thick. I was inspired by seeing the amazing work of Liza Lou, who covered ordinary settings in beads ( a kitchen, a back yard, a tool closet...). As I have a lot of beads, I though this would be interesting to I don't usually work with it was a challenge to find a non-toxic glue which would be relatively easy to use. I thought hotmelt glue would be dangerous for my fingers, and was elated to find several glues at the craftstore which will work. Hopefully! I'm using Weldbond, which is a white glue made for glass, wood, etc. So far, the beads are sticking! I spent 5 hours today working on this part, and I'm enjoying the process, although it is painstaking and somewhat messy.
Here is my beginning, though, and I'm having a lot of fun laying out the beads. I hope they will stick! More in a few days...

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Triangular Shawl Edgings

I've been fooling around with edgings other than garter stitch,on a triangular shawl, thinking that garter would not stretch as much as the stockinette-based fabric of the rest of the shawl.( Although sometimes perhaps you want this to happen so the thing stays on, but that is a different question...) I found that a 5 stitch edging of ribbing, e.g. PKPKP would have the same vertical stretch as the rest of the shawl, but not curl as a stockinette border would.. I started a shawl using this edge but haven't finished it yet, sorry. But so far, the edge is really nice.The ribbing kind of contracts like I-cord, but has the correct number of rows. And you can start it the way you do the usual 3 stitch garter-edged shawl, e.g.: provisionally cast on 5 sts, PKPKP, turn, KPKPK, etc, until you've done twice the rows needed for picking up on the edge, ( usually around 14 rows,) then pick up 7 sts along the edge of the strip you just knit, then undo the provisional cast on and pick up the 5 live sts. Now you'll have 17 sts on your needle, and you can start your shawl pattern. There is going to be a slight jog where the sts are 1/2 stitch off, but it isn't very noticeable and gets buried in the ribbing ( and is at the back of the neck anyway). Then you can start the pattern of the triangular shawl as usual, marking the 5 edge sts on both ends of the row as you would if doing a garter edge . See photos, and try it!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Miniature leaf Triangle Shawl

Several years ago, I bought one 273 yard skein of Great Adirondack Silk Delight, in Orchid, a lavender, blue, grey, green and purple colorway. It was lovely silk, but I couldn't decide what to make of it, as I only had the one skein. . Last month I played around and made a shrug, using the same pattern I'd used on the black one, but with short sleeves. I finished the piece, but didn't find it flattering. So, I had fun frogging it entirely. Then I thought it would be nice to see if I could make a triangular shawl, using the same stitch pattern, and graphed it out. I liked how the repeats fell regularly, and soon I was happily knitting along on size 10 needles. I had no idea how large it would be, exactly, and I wanted a little bit of a different edging, so as the ball got smaller and smaller, I knit and pondered. ( I also read Harry Potter 7 while I was knitting it, it was such a simple stitch pattern.) Finally I realized I could weigh the yarn remaining with my kitchen scale, so to determine how much to leave for the edging and the bindoff. After about 85 rows, I was ready. I had 12 gm left. I knit another row,and had 10 gm left. So I figured I could knit 3 more rows, so I had 4 gm left for the bind off. I was thrilled that it worked out exactly and I had 2 feet of yarn left at the end! It blocked out at 55 inches wide and 31 inches long, and it was a fun knit. I think my next challenge will be a variation with a straight section in the middle, like the Fareose shaping, to make it slightly wider and to fold better on the body, as the triangle does fall off easily! Now I need a nice shawl pin...

Cat is for scale...

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Shrug it off!

After sitting in a tent at an evening party shivering as a cold wind blew into the tent, I decided I needed a warm shrug for just such occasions. I had 4 skeins of Elizabeth Lavold "Classic Al" which is a 50% Alpaca 50% Merino blend. I used the stitch pattern from Pam Allen's Little Silk Shrug on pg 47 of the book "Lace Style" but the construction design of "Retro Redux Shrug" by Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark on pg 75 of that lovely book. On size 10 needles, it went fast, and created a comfortable, warm garment. And used up all 440 yards of wool, which is fun to do. I've never worn a shrug before, but I can see the advantages; easy to construct, fun and quick. The disadvantage is that it lands under the arms so if you sweat a lot, it can get sticky there. Then you take it off...the perfect hot flash garment.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Lace vest

I finished my lace vest. Cotton Classic, 5 skeins, size 6(5,4) needles. Very fun to knit, and comfortable to wear. Good thing, as the weather is heating up. I enjoyed designing this, and now am planning my next concoction.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Playing with lace

I became intrigued by a Japanese book I bought recently, of patterned lace, and wondered if I could use a pattern in the book to make an interesting summer tank top/vest thingie. So, I swatched ( in leftover blue Cotton Classic, no.6 US needles, which I had on hand) , calculated and cast on provisionally, for a bottom-up circular tank, figuring I'd knit till long enough, divide for armholes, plug in a V-neck and bind off sloping shoulders, and decide on the edge treatments later..
Of course, after about 4 inches, the pattern seemed way too busy, so I simplified it and decided the bottom was a border, and continued in pattern up the trunk. I'm liking the effect, and having fun seeing what comes next. I'm also going down some needle sizes( 5 then 4, then 5 and 6 again) to create waist shaping. I hope it comes out as I envision, but the journey is sometimes more interesting than the destination...

Monday, May 07, 2007

Wedding Dress Memories

After reading an article in Interweave Knits Summer 2007, pg 16 about the knitted wedding dress, I was reminded of the confection I concocted for my own wedding in 1983. I was doing my internship in Internal Medicine, and didn't have much money, but decided to design and make my dress. I was into crochet at the time, and thought it would be fun to design the lace for the dress. This was prior to digital cameras, of course, and unfortunately the dress won't fit over my decidedly more muscular upper arms these days, so here are some photos of the gown anyway. I'm most amused by the shoes, which were created on a pair of clogs with the tops removed. Those still fit, and are still white, while the dress has yellowed some with age. Fond memories...

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Frost Flowers and Leaves Cardigan

I finally finished my Frost Flowers and Leaves Cardigan. I'm so pleased at how it turned out. I used the basic structure of the lace from the square Shawl by Eugen Beugler in "A Gathering of Lace" , but first adapted it for a triangular shawl from the instructions worked out by Kat LeFevre and documented in the Yahoo group on the web, : . It was knit with 9 skeins of Cotton Classic on size 6 needles. The design is based on my diagonal sweater pattern, but here I used the FF&L pattern to create the fabric, so the knitting is on the diagonal. I wanted the leaves motif to run down the front, back, and top of shoulders and sleeves, so the construction followed the pattern nicely. The biggest puzzle was how to create the opening for the neck, and I was delighted to discover that the gague was such that I could move the start of the neck over one repeat, and then short- row along the shoulder edge to get the fronts to line up with the back. Once I understood how the pattern worked, it was fun to figure out how to knit it in the round as well as flat, but it took a lot of concentration and was not something I could do while watching TV. LOL. I really enjoyed making this sweater, and learned a lot during the process. I suppose my only regret was using a garter stitch edging for the front neckline, as it doesn't stretch as much as the rest of the fabric. I am too lazy to try to redo this, but I was tempted! It is comfortable to wear and a great summer concoction. Will I do it again? Perhaps....

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Yarn Harlot Visits New York!

I had the delightful, extraordinary experience of sitting in a full lecture hall at FIT in NYC on Thursday evening the 22nd, with 750 people, all knitting at once, laughing and hooting while listening to Stephanie Pearl Mc Phee ( aka Yarn Harlot) on the pleasures of knitting and the problems of communicating with the "muggles" who still believe that knitting isn't cool, and that there couldn't possibly be so many knitters who: like sock yarn enough to join a sock yarn of the month club, use computers, go to knitting conferences andretreats, read books about knitting or write "real" books about knitting...It was a fun, amazing event! They had red bags at each chair with a set of size 8 needles and some Patons SWS yarn, and instructions to make a block to donate to afghans...everyone knit furiously on socks. blocks, sweaters, etc.I didn't see anyone I recognized, but enjoyed sitting with generous strangers, one of whom was wearing a Frost Flowers and Leaves shawl in delicious jaggerspun Claret Zephyr, and another person who knits HarryPotter-themed hats. I saw many Clapotis, one Knit Around Sweater, tons of socks...on the way there, I stopped in at Habu textiles and School Products, which had tons of hand dyed cashmere, yak, camel, silk tape, etc.There are 17 yarn stores in NYC alone! Here is a link to a fantastic interactive map of them : Check out this . Stephanie asked us each to think of our own stash, then look around us and imagine all the stashes of all the knitters in the room--what an experience! I also got her new book, laughed some more on the train home reading it. The knitting world is different from quilters; more broad spectrum, more isolated I think, although with the rise of blogs and Internet sites knitters are beginning to connect more. It seems more shop-based rather than guild-based, but it is another (mostly female) force to recon with...fascinating to be in both worlds. Similar issues preoccupy both groups, but there is a lot of crossover. Sometime I'll have to write more about this, but I need more research. LOL... ...

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Playing with designs

I was playing with graph paper and Excel for charting lace motifs , but disliked the constant erasing and laborious keyboarding. I was thinking I'd love some manipulable thing that could easily translate onto paper when I'd figured out the stitch sequences.. Well, a few years ago I bought a toy called "Magnetic Mosaics" from for my kids but never used it. I pulled it out, and was very happy to find a set of many colors of 1/4 inch magnets, and a magnetic board. I assigned each stitch a color, in this case blue for knit, black for yarnovers and green for K2tog and SSk, light green for K3tog. I placed a piece of 4 to the inch graph paper over the board, and lined up the magnets on the grid. I enjoyed playing with stitch patterns and was able to create some interesting patterns this way. It made it easy to create a motif, and then move it where I wanted. To insert a stitch, or change a K to a K2tog I could just switch colored magnets or slide a whole row over. I'm enjoying playing with this a lot! I just might design something new...when i finish all the other things in the works. Never enough time!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Joining Cotton yarn

I had to share my exciting discovery of the day. I'm playing with creating a cardigan sweater based on the Frost Flowers and Leaves shawl in A Gathering of Lace, using Cotton Classic yarn ( because I had a bunch of it in stash). I'm having a wonderful time modifying the geometry of this square shawl into a top down in the round cardigan shape, but became annoyed by the tendency of cotton yarn to poke out when ending /beginning balls. "Weave in ends" just doesn't cut it. In wool, I like to spit splice, so the ends felt together and you don't have a noticable bump. In cotton, the stuff won't do that. So, what is a contemporary fiber artist to do?
I tried fusing the ends with liquid fuse ( a liquid product to fuse cotton fabrics together using heat from your iron). This left a fused yarn, but stiff and gluey. Not terrible, but not entirely satisfactory. Next I tried Bo-Nash powder. This stuff is little granules of fusable, and while it is annoying to work with as it flies around, can be tamed with a bit of water on the yarn, and using a paintbrush to apply granules to the remaining plies. I removed 1/2 inch of 2 plies on each end of the yarn, overlapped and applied a bunch of Bo-Nash, wrapped in teflon sheet as directed, ironed, and was thrilled to find a soft, almost un noticable, flexible join. I had to let it set for a little bit , but it was strong enough to withstand a gentle tug, and the label says it is washable, etc. For the small amount of stress that yarn gets after being knitted, it seems like this will hold sufficiently. It probably also would work for " tacking down" the ends that always seem to come loose in cotton yarns.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

More Hats!

Here are 2 more hats. These are too much fun to make! The blue one has a contrast band of vairegated Unikat yarn, which felted beautifully, and the green one is for my friend Susan Schrott who looks fabulous in green! Check out her website at for some delightful quilts.
Unfortunately I was felting late at night, so the hats came out a little wrinkled, but I think they will soften with wearing. Guess that means I'll have to make some more!

Playing with Lace

Lately I've become enamored with lace, and started knitting with some lovely Great Adirondak Sireno, which is wool and silk. Such lovely stuff. I'm enthralled watching the pattern develop, and wondering how far I'll get with only one 675 yard skein.And I'm not particularly a shawl wearing person, so from time to time I wonder if I should make it into a circular shrug or square it off. Right now at 50 rows it is 16 inches across, and I still have 30 rows of pattern to go. The pattern is an Italian doily pattern in a booklet called " Lavori artistici a calza 11" pattern #66. which I purchased from a wonderful source for all things lace.