I just finished binding off this shawl this morning and, after running it through the hand wash cycle on my front loader, I have stretched and pinned it out to dry on my blocking board. I have had people tell me, "I never block anything" and my response is a sort of internal WOW. Blocking raises the halo effect of wool or any animal fiber, stretches and displays the stitches, evens out the edges and any tension anomalies and can, with lace knitting especially, literally double the size of your knitting.
This shawl was made with 3 skeins of assorted artisan yarns that were not quite matching in fiber content, color, yardage or weight. The stitch pattern favors garter stitch heavily and I wanted to practice the Portuguese style of knitting so I cast on 10 stitches and began, increasing in the center and at the edges and changing the yarn every 6 rows or so utilizing the Russian Spit Join so I wouldn't have to work in ends. I used the third skein to make the lacy ruffled edging and I used up every last inch of all the yarns except the edging yarn where I had about 4 yards left. I counted on my trusty blocking board to even out all differences and as you can see in the close up here the magic worked as I had known it would. The wires and pins can be picked up on line at KnitPicks for around $20 and the blocking board we made ourselves. We used an 8 foot piece of 3 inch thick pink insulation board from Home Depot cut in half and joined together using the tongue and groove at the edge. Duct tape was involved. Then I wrapped the top surface in quilt batting, wrapped it again with some heavy weight linen (use a dark color -- mine is light colored and shows water marks) and sewed it on, folding at the corners like you would with a Christmas package. I can stab the pins straight into it without worry and then take it off the table and lean it against the wall until the knitting has dried. In between blocking parties I use it to pin idea swatches onto, iron big flat pieces of linen on, or block the sunlight when it is blaring into the studio. It is extremely light weight and rigid which makes it very easy to move around.
One of my favorite rites of spring is setting up my table at the Wednesday morning Farmer's Market in Monument Square in Portland. This is a picture from last year, I'm guessing June because I am wearing a sweater. I bring along my spinning wheel to keep me busy and out of trouble and an assortment of hand dyed yarns, roving, wool for rugs, dolls, patterns, and whatever I have on hand that I think might amuse you. I'll be doing it again this year, probably starting the first of June through the end of August. (The Market itself runs from May to November I believe.) I'll keep you posted. The snowbanks are so high outside my house right now that I felt like we could all use a reminder that, given that spring has arrived every year so far, it will undoubtedly show up again this year. Round about February I need this reminder. Happy Valentines Day!
These are pictures of one hat, Ann's Red Hat, on several heads. This picture is Ann's Red Hat on my lovely and cooperative daughter, Devan.
The pattern can be uploaded at Ravelry or at etsy where you can also get some of the yarn I used to make it.
Ann made the original hat herself from a pattern that I designed for her. Unfortunately it was tucked in the sleeve of her coat when it was stolen a couple of weeks ago. She was waaay too sad to make it again herself so I made this one for her. It is knit from a hand dyed red alpaca/wool blend. The green edging is the same blend, also a hand dye.
After it was knit up I washed it in my front loader with some towels and, when it wasn't quite small enough, tossed it into the dryer for 15 minutes.
One hour later I remembered it and went to check. It was perfect!! Evidently my karma is very good, unlike the karma of whatever scofflaw took Ann's original Red Hat.
I then did the embroidery with scraps of sock yarn and tossed in a little needle felting to fill in the flowers and leaves. I was so happy with the results that I took it with me to my Tuesday spinning group for Show and Tell. They all decided that showing and telling were insufficient and felt that showing, telling, and modeling would be better. This is a picture of Roberta in the hat. You can tell that this modeling thing is not new to her.
And this is my friend Margaret who came with me to the lunch meeting. She is looking out the glass doors into Beatrice's expansive and beautiful back yard....perhaps looking for glimpses of the sheep. We quite often have our monthly lunch meetings at Beatrice's house where the soup is excellent and served in Beatrice's own handmade pottery bowls. She is a woman with many, many talents and a very generous character.
And here is a picture of Beatrice herself in Ann's Red Hat. Where is a picture of Ann herself in the Red Hat? That is a very good question. I took the hat home with me that night and gave it to Ann at the Tuesday Night Knitting Class but mid-winter evenings in Maine are really dark. If Ann comes to one of the Monday lunch time classes I'll try to get a picture of her in it and add it to the queue.
Here are some pictures of the Tuesday Night Knitting Class at my studio, Threads of Meaning. We have it from 6:00-8:00 and it is what I call a "drop-in" class. You can bring whatever problem/project/plan you like and I'll take it from there. Want to try cables but you're a little confused? How about lace? Never turned a heel on a sock? This is the place to get all that sorted out. I have added a Monday lunch time class from 11:00-1:00 for people who can't, on any given week and for whatever reason, make it to the Tuesday Night class. This first picture is of Pat working away studiously and with great concentration on socks (two at a time/toe up).
This was probably Ann's fault. Sometimes we have to instruct firmly....."I am at a tricky part....now don't say anything interesting." which of course immediately leads to someone trying to say something both interesting and outrageous. Ann is particularly prone to this sort of mischief. There is a picture of her below looking ironic. The whole two at a time/toe up socks would be an irresistible temptation to her.
This is the Ann of Ann's Red Hat which appears on my Ravelry site. It turned out so well that we now also have Pat's Red Hat, Ann's Red Hat II, Devan's Pink Hat and pretty soon Martha's Purple Hat. You can check it out on the Pattern Page if you want to see photos. She is either working on her first hat in this picture, or possibly the outrageous Max's Red Hat that she made for her son.
And this shot shows Violet (puppy) in the arms of her mother Emily. Emily has just finished the sweater that she is wearing which we copied from one of Ann's that we all liked. I have cut off Emily's head in the sweater shot because it was a bad picture of her. This was my fault. Emily is very lovely as you can see in the good picture of her that I took sitting at the table and smiling at her knitting. I this picture Emily is very demure and well behaved, but trust me....that is not always the case.
I have no problem with making things.....that is, in fact, why I get up in the morning. My first thought isn't "What's for breakfast?" or "Where's the coffee?" (although that is my second thought), it's "What am I working on today?" A day where I don't get the opportunity to make something just feels like a big waste of time to me. So, over the last few months, when I haven't been posting to my website or talking to you all, I have nevertheless been very, very busy working on and finishing up things. So what good does that do me? is a question that you might justifiably be asking yourself. If you don't write about it or even take pictures of it what earthly good does it do us, your visiting readers?
That is an excellent question and one that has been bugging me quite a bit recently. So my New Year's resolution, and I'm starting now because there's no time like the present, is to post to the site daily. They may not be flashy, or lengthy, or even have pictures, but I resolve to communicate something to you, Gentle Readers, every single day from now on. I am going to try to think of it as making something, as building a relationship and hopefully a conversation with you about The Art of Making Things. I want to talk about where the ideas come from, what I've been working on, how to do it, and sometimes even why to do it. If you comment back to me it will help me to feel as if a conversation is going on, so please do so. In the meantime, I will hold up my end.
This is Una with her Christmas Doll, whose name is Eleanor. I made Eleanor for Una as a thank you for help that Una has given me in the past with modeling of sweaters, and help that her parents have given me in the way of free wool/llama roving. Una and her dad made this birthday cake for Eleanor's 1st birthday, which Una evidently believes is the one you have on your very first day of life. Eleanor waited on top of the refrigerator while they cooked, so that she wouldn't get dirty. I wonder who is going to blow out the candle?
If you would like to stay with us this is the room we rent via Airbnb. I would love to see you and give you a tour of the studio, some quality time at the knitting table, some scones and warm drinks.