Alan’s vest

Well I did complete Alan’s vest about a month ago. Trying to get him to model it so I can put a photo on here has been impossible so far. The Knitting Pure and Simple pattern was fun and accurate plus the vest size fits very well indeed.

Letting you into a secret I have started another Knitting Pure and Simple project for Alan. This one is pattern number 991 which is a neck down pullover for men. It is the first top down I have started for Alan, although this summer I made about four for myself all from Knitting Pure and Simple patterns.

The sweater was not the first choice for the yarn I am using. I was so happy with the vest that I thought another vest – with a different pattern – would work really well for him. However the book that I chose the vest from has become a bitter disappointment. I had completed the back up to the neck shaping and did one side easily. When I started to do the second neck and of course shoulder shaping there were some instruction’s missing from pattern. And in fact when I then read the pattern instruction’s for the front shaping that too had a problem. I searched on line for corrections and found many comments about the book – none positive – as knitters were having problems with other vest patterns in the book. I emailed the publisher after not finding any corrections they mentioned a correction for another page, and then suggested I might like to pay for a download of the most recent version of the book. Hello pay for something that I already own I don’t think so!

So many companies are putting out books and patterns with errors in which we the consumer are paying for. Yes I know I can go on line and get the corrections, but in the case of my Mother she does not have access to a computer unless my Father is home too. And I am sure there are other knitters out there with the same problem. This past week I have had to get in touch with a magazine for an error in a lace doily pattern. This is the first doily I have attempted to knit and even the experienced lace knitters at the guild I belong to could not work the pattern out. Fortunately I got a lovely response from the magazine the same day with the correction included in the email. And yes I will try the pattern again and buy the magazine again!

As for the vest book I have with the many errors.  I shall keep that until we have a large garage sale probably after Christmas with enough collective yarn for sale to start a small yarn store. In fact I will go through my book case and see if there are other books that I know I shall not be knitting from and sell those as well. These books are taking up valuable real estate on my book cases and there is one book I want to buy BUT is dreadfully expensive. With the sale of the ones I am not going to use I could buy something that I will love use and enjoy.

Hiya Hiya Needles

Who would have thought that one could have a love affair with some double pointed needles at my age!

Someone I knit with at the lace guild had been using the Hiya Hiya circular needles to make lace. They had mentioned how smooth the joins were and how sharp the points were on the smaller size needles. More importantly was the fact they were made of stainless steel and left no residue or colour on their pure white yarn. This was exciting because they had previously been using the Addi Turbo Lace needles and their white tablecloth was black in parts from the needles.

As I have plenty of circular needles in all brands, shapes and sizes I could not justify the expense of just another brand of circular needles to try. But as the saying goes there is more than one way to skin a cat!

I found a local yarn store that sold Hiya Hiya needles and decided to purchase double pointed needles as I have started being able to knit socks again. I had a very bad fall several months ago and found it very difficult to knit with any needles smaller than a size US6 comfortably. When I got to the store they had size US1 and US2 and so I bought a pair of each.

When I started a pair of socks for my Dad, what I found immediately was that the 6 inch length was absolutely perfect. I have previously struggled with the 7 and 9 inch ones – far too much needle, and then the 4 inch ones stick in the palm of my hand and are very uncomfortable.  Now that maybe my style of knitting, however my knitting friend on Sundays went back to using the long needles  as the 4 inch ones hurt her hands too.

Since buying the first two pair I have gone back and purchased US3 and US4 both of which I can use for the sleeves on an Alice Starmore  sweater I am currently knitting. My father recently sent me a knitting pattern for some cable socks, is that a hint or what, and that pattern suggests both the US1 and US2 so the smallest size will also get used fairly soon too.

As for the socks I originally started with the Hiya Hiya needles for Dad? They will be on their way to Australia this week. And since then I have made a pair for Alan and have almost completed the first pair for myself.

Without a doubt there is no struggling with needles that are too long or too short with these 6 inch Hiya Hiya needles

Knit Picks Harmony Wood Needles

My dear friend Toni gave me the Options Interchangeable Harmony Wood Circular Knitting Needle Set.

Having so many pairs of Addi Turbo needles which I love, and of course many pairs of Clover and Crystal Palace I have never bothered with the sets of interchangeable needles from any company before. Also because I had worked in a yarn store I tended to buy what we had for sale in the store rather than look for products outside.

To say I am impressed is an understatement. The needles are so smooth and the yarn I am testing them with is sliding right along the cable, join and needle. These are the first circular needles that have come right out of the container with a cable that is completely flexible and straight on contact. They were easy to assemble and I used the little key to tighten them further and so far they have not come loose or snagged the yarn.

When I checked the needle size with my needle guage I found them slightly on the small size. The yarn I am using has a suggested 4 stitches to the  inch on a #9 and I am definitely having to use a #10 to get the correct guage for the pattern I have chosen. It will be very interesting to see what happens when I use a finer yarn with these needles for the next project I want to knit.

Toni had worried that because the wood is made with such beautiful but dark stains that it would be difficult to work with dark coloured yarn. I deliberately chose chocolate brown wool to use and so far in daylight I am not having a problem. But it will be interesting to see how I feel in the evening working under my ott lamp and also when picking up stitches around the neck and armholes of the vest.

So far they have my vote of good quality and ease of use.

New York Sheep and Wool Festival

The New York Sheep and Wool Festival will host the only all-fiber event in the United States in honor of the United Nations International Year of International Fibres (IYNF).

See the story Fiber Lovers Invited to the International Tent at Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival

We have been working non-stop for the past year to bring nine speakers from around the world to share their unique fiber stories with the American market.

Please consider looking at keepthefleece.org and making a donation to help contribute to the Heifer International largest flock of animals too

Lambtown 2009

I just had the most amazing day at Lambtown 2009 in Dixon California. They had moved the day from July to the first Saturday in October and what a good idea that was. The weather was cool in the early morning but warmed up to a pleasant temperature for all the visitors and of course the animals too. Actually in Madden Hall it was rather cool with the air conditioning on freezing I think for part of the morning. While the time of year was wonderful the organisers will have to remember to have hot beverages available from vendors if this is the permanent weekend. Shaved ice, beer and smoothies were not appetitising at 8am on an October morning. Perhaps a vendor with coffee and muffins could be invited next year.

Wild Fibers Magazine had a booth there for the first time, and so many people stopped by the booth and thanked us for having the magazine available for sale or to sign up for a subscription. It was a pleasure to introduce the magazine to new subscribers who had never seen the magazine before. And also to talk about the contents to many visitors who while not crafts people were interested to learn about all the natural fibers around the world that we must continue to use and support.

My friend Kathie stopped by the booth with a gift for me of a beginning instruction manual, roving and a drop spindle determined to teach me to spin. And low and behold I had a great conversation with a spinning teacher who lives very close to me in El Dorado Hills and she gives private lessons on her own spinning wheels. Now I am even more tempted to learn as I really have no excuses now.

It was quite a long day leaving home at about 7.15am and we got home around 9pm. But so great to meet such wonderful people so very enjoyable.

Alan’s vest is almost done

What with one thing and another I have not done much knitting this week let alone find the time to do an entry on my blog.

It was such a nice morning, especially at 7am when the temperature was about 65 F that I took Alan’s vest into the garden with a cup of tea for some rest and relaxation.

I completed the v neck shaping and again I decided to do the shaping two stitches in from the edge. I had done this on the back armhole shaping and it does look nice. I have just done the three needle bind off for the shoulders. This method  always gives such a nice finish and I did take care when binding off using a needle one size larger to prevent the bind off being too tight.

We have a number of things planned for the rest of the day including a Gourd Festival and a surprise 16th birthday party so the vest will go away til later. All I have left to do is pick to pick up the stitches around both the neck and the armholes. With luck it will get done before the weekend is over.

The forecast for the weekend here in Folsom and the surrounding area is about 100F BUT we could have a high as low as 74F by Wednesday of the coming week. Perhaps Fall is finally in the air in California!

Shoalwater Shawl

I wanted to show my Shoalwater Shawl off even though it has not yet been blocked.

The pattern is by Evelyn A Clark and it is Fiber Trends S-2011. The pattern is great because you can use anything from a fine lace weight yarn up to a worcested weight yarn. The yarn requirements and suggested needle sizes are all on the pattern too. I knit the shawl on Addi Turbo needles and started with size US 7 but decided to use US8 after doing a little swatch.

I was given some yarn  called Kauni by a dear friend and had to immediately make something from this gorgeous gift. The shoalwater shawl had been on my list of have to knits for quite a while so once I had the yarn there was no question as to what it was going to be used for.

Shoalwater Shawl made in Kauni yarn
Shoalwater Shawl made in Kauni yarn

The pattern called for a knitted on i-cord edge but I knew I was going to run out of yarn. I completed the picot edge and then just finished the shawl at that point.  I will get it blocked as soon as I have set up my blocking board again.

slightly closer photo of the feather and fan pattern
slightly closer photo of the feather and fan pattern

This will not be the only Shoalwater Shawl I make and already have one on the needles in a very fine lace weight yarn. I was also given four or five more skeins of the Kauni so there will be more shawls in the future.

Progress on Alan’s vest

Life has certainly been a little busy here recently. On Sunday I found out that a good girl friend in England is going to be a grand mother which is very exciting. I offered to make a baby blanket which they are very pleased about. And Monday morning bright and early I found a pattern in my stash however will have to purchase some yarn.  Of course I will also make some red cashmere booties as every new baby should have their toes dressed in luxury! And funnily enough I have some Royal Cashmere by Plymouth left over from a sweater I made myself last year.  And I also have a free with the Royal Cashmere yarn a pattern for baby booties….

I missed the lace guild meeting on Saturday as I was just too busy with things I needed to do around the house including the washing etc. We only meet once a month so the next meeting is the second Saturday in October.

IMG_9866I did however meet Kathie and Theresa on Sunday for lunch and knitting and made very good progress on Alan’s vest. I finally decided to knit 15 inches instead of 15 1/2 inches as the finished garment seemed awfully long.  Since then I have cast off for the armholes and put the front stitches on some spare yarn. I am now working on just the stitches for the back. Decided to alter the decreasing slightly on the armhole edge as the pattern said decrease at the beginning and end of every other row by ssk knit across and k2tog. I prefer the decreasing away from the edge as it makes for a nicer shaping and also makes picking up the stitches for the armband easier. So I am knitting 2 stitches then ssk knit to last four stitches k2tog and then knit the the last 2 stitches. Making the change hardly shows as the yarn is so dark, but I like the line it gives to the armhole decreasing as it is slightly smarter.

Progress is being made

I have had a busy few days doing my job. This evening I managed to find some time to do some knitting on my husband’s vest.

The yarn is knitting up nicely and I will use the Cascade 220 again in the future. I am on the second skein now and the piece measures 7.5 inches long about half way to the arm holes. For the size I am knitting the suggestion is 15.5 inches knitted and then start to  make the armholes.

7.5 inches knitted
7.5 inches knitted

I took the vest on Sunday when I met Kathie for lunch and then we sat and chatted with our knitting in Borders as usual. It was nice for a change not to have to keep track of the rows or follow a pattern.

Saturday is the Lace Guild Meeting and I am almost tempted to take this with me so once again I can knit and chat.

When I attached the second skein I noticed to my horror that I have three skeins of one dye lot and two skeins in a second dye lot. That must be why they had been sold at 50% off in the sale! Have had the piece under two Ott Lamps and out in daylight and I can not see any difference in the two skeins I have joined together. Will keep my fingers crossed that as I progress up the body the different dye lots won’t suddenly jump out at me.

Keep The Fleece

Here is a new story about keepthefleece.org

Keep the Fleece – Helping Sustain a Global Itch

The photos were taken at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Show in 2009.  We had men and women knitting on the world’s longest scarf which is going to auctioned off in October at the Rhinebeck New York Sheep and Wool Show. One of the ladies in the top photo was blind and so inspired us all at the show with her beautiful knitting.

All proceeds from the auction will be donated to Heifer International as keepthefleece.org wants to buy the largest flock of animals in the world.

Mustang Sally's Yarn Adventures