Sunday, June 26, 2011

Plying practice

More spinning and plying practice! I tried to pay close attention to my singles to improve my plying.  The left skein was divided evenly, and spun in the same order, so that with plying most of the colors would line up.  For the most part, it worked!  The right skein was reversed so that the colors would only line up by accident.

Left: BFL Twist by Color Bug Yarns in color Koi
Right: Domestic Merino by Yarn or a Tale

Both were purchased at the Fiber Expo in Ann Arbor - the BFL came from 2010, the Merino from 2009.   It is lovely to use fiber out of my stash.  Now I just need to "finish" each skein.  But this is the first yarn I have produced that I WANT to knit.  So very exciting!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Golden Queen

Trollius chinensis, (Globeflower) Golden Queen

My favorite color of yellow - saffron.  This color often represents sacrifice and salvation.  When I lived on the Upper East Side my bedroom curtains were this lovely color.  A few times a year the sun would rise and the light would reflect off the Bank across the alley from my bedroom.  My entire bedroom would fill with defuse golden light.  I would wake up early on Sundays, get an H&H bagel and take it to Carl Schurz Park. There I would watch people walk their dogs, and see tug boats work their way up the East River.

Those days that I woke up to golden light were some of my happiest moments of my life in Manhattan.  My heart would fill with peace, and I could rise above every little thing that came my way.  Even when a long-term relationship was dying, my golden light would buoy me, sustain me, convince me that I could be happy again.

I no longer have saffron curtains. But whenever I see this color it reminds me. I take a deep healing breath. I lower my shoulders and imagine tug boats persistently working their way against the current.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Summer Favorite Thing

I like to wear perfume. For years I wore Gucci Rush in the winter.  It was the most hypnotic, complex, warm perfume I had ever come across. It was too heavy to wear in the summer, at which time I would switch to the Demeter lines.  Mojito, Gin and Tonic, Tomatoes, Green Tea, Early Grey were all perfect and light.  And then I found Demeter's Fig Leaves.  It was complex, but light. It had a plant muskiness that I loved but didn't make the scent heavy.  And now I am out of it, and I still have three Demeter perfumes that are partially used.  So, I am not going to reorder just now.


Now I can moisturize AND get the lovely scent of Fig leaf!  Available at World Market.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


I have owned my spinning wheel since August 2006 when my husband surprised me for my birthday. Unbidden, he researched wheels and bought me a fantastic intro wheel - an Ashford Elizabeth.  I had taken a quick drop-spindle class in Albuquerque, but had no experience on a wheel.  So I have been largely self-taught.

One of the many things I love about my LYS, Woven Art, is the variety of fiber activities you can indulge in.  Knitting? Of course! Crocheting? Sure! Weaving? You bet!  Spinning? YEP!  The local spinning guild, Flock University, meets at the shop on the fourth Tuesday of the month.  And one of the guild committee members often offers classes at the shop. And finally, after much schedule-wrangling and more than a little good luck, I am taking a class. It is a three-parter, and yesterday was part two - plying.

On the left: my practice plying from class. On the right: merino & silk from Yarn Hollow.

The most valuable thing I have learned? That if I want to get better and more consistent I need to CONCENTRATE. Oh yeah, and practice. Go figure.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Elizabeth Zimmermann: Double-Knitting Baby Blanket

Some long time ago now, perhaps even back in January, I finished the double-knitting blanket from Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitter's Almanac.  This seems to be a largely overlooked project, which is a shame because it is so simple and satisfying to make.

For those of you unfamiliar with double knitting, it is a way to knit a double-sided fabric so that there is no wrong side, AND you never have to purl. The front looks like the back, the back looks like the front, and before I started the garter stitch border at the top, the blanket was a giant pocket.  Once I did a series of decreases and knit the garter border, then the pocket was closed.  The fabric that is double-knit is squishy and plush, because it is two layers of knitting!

This particular method of double knitting requires you to slip the stitches for the other side of the blanket while working the ones on the current side, a rhythm that isn't difficult to establish once you get going.  This is done while working on one circular knitting.  One row knit across the front, and another knit across the back equals one full row on the blanket.   Intrigued? I was!

I first became interested in double knitting in 2007 when I worked at Newbury Yarns in Boston.  Alasdair of FallingBlox designs was teaching classes there, but due to my class schedule it never worked out. His hats are beautiful - I fell in love with a compass rose pattern, which may be the Four Winds Hat from Twist Collective 2009. (Or it may be a related hat, but I do remember him coming to the shop explaining how difficult it was to get the right letters in the correct places, with correct orientation.)

This seed of interest led to me taking a double knitting class with Melissa Leapman in late 2010 where I learned the basics, and then more complex techniques.  She taught colorwork with double knitting which melted my brain just a wee bit.  I wanted my first project to be a solid color, so I could get the rhythm down, and not add another level of complexity.  Besides, lovely indigo colored hand dyed yarn just perfect for the gauge of the project? It was an obvious sign from The Universe.

Pattern: Double-Knitting Blanket or Pad by Elizabeth Zimmermann, from Knitter's Almanac, February.
Yarn: Kona Bulky Superwash, hand dyed by Nancy McRay at Woven Art . 2 skeins with almost no leftovers.
Needles: Addi turbos US 10.5 (6.5 mm)
Mods: I made just one modification (or choice, since EZ gives you the option) - when nearing the end of the "stockinette" section of the blanket I chose to do ssk decreases rather than k2tog because they mirrored the increases done at the other end of the blanket.

This project was knit for the shear joy of knitting. Knit for knit's sake.  It will live at Woven Art for a while, and then will come home and go in my gift box for some lucky cold weather baby.

If you have never tried double knitting, this is an excellent project to get you familiar with the wonderful simplicity of the technique. But perhaps not as a gift for a Texas baby!

And now that I have a simple double-knitting project done I am ready to tackle something more complicated.  And LO! The self-same Alasdair is soon to have a book published from Cooperative Press.  I can't wait to drain my Paypal account to get a digital and hardcopy version of his book!