I Still Have some Thursday Stuck to my Shoe

O, what a strange week this has been.  On Monday I had everything figured out, and every day thereafter, I got a little bit Wrong-Er.  

I briefly posted an actual jpg of my Butterflies chart without even thinking about the fact that anybody could just knit right from it.  I don't want to sound un-generous, but it's hard enough to make a living as a knitter without accidentally giving away the store.  I realized I had shot myself in the foot and took down the chart.  But not before I got several gracious thank you notes for posting the "free pattern".  It WAS my mistake entirely, so if you managed to save a copy of the chart before I removed it, good on you.  Just please do me a favor and don't sell it or share it.

And then there was yesterday's bizarre re-sending of a post from July (yeah - I got that too - FeedBurner must have really liked that one?) to all my subscribers.  Sorry to spam you with old news; I have no idea why that happened.

But the biggest Wrong Thing I did this week was to declare with certainty what yarn would be in this year's Madrona knitting kit.  Before I swatched it.

A funny thing happened between my design and the beautiful Sincere Sheep yarn I was planning to use.  Turns out my stranded colorwork design was totally wrong for the gorgeous, subtle natural dyes that I love so much:


What's wrong with this picture?  Other than the fact that the unblocked knitting is kinda wobbly?  CONTRAST.  Or lack of it.  Sincere Sheep's naturally-dyed hues all have roughly the same value; resulting in butterflies that don't stand out from their background enough to be read. My design just didn't do the yarn any favors.  And as much as I wanted it to work, I had to grit my teeth and start over.


Now I've done a total reversal.  And this time I know it's really going to work.  Because the new swatch is underway, and it's HOT.  This is Kauni, from Denmark, whose crazy self-changing colors are going to make everybody's project just a little bit different from the others.  And what could be better than that?

So, what have we learned, Dorothy?  

1.    Sometimes the first pancake has to be fed to the dog.  It doesn't mean you stink at pancakes; You just have to try again.  The hardest part is admitting you've made dog food.

2.    We don't just swatch for gauge.  Things I also learned from the first pancake include: I don't really like two-color castons for corrugated rib.  I don't like corrugated rib for this piece in the first place.  The background behind the butterflies needed to be a tonal fade of ombre, rather than delineated stripes.

3.     Stranded Colorwork swatches worked flat (which I was doing to estimate yardage) should be against the law.  Purling back in pattern is totally sick and wrong.  Which I know you know.  It just needs to be repeated from time to time.  No need to try it yourself to prove if it still sucks; I've done it for you.  You're welcome.

I'm spending the weekend knitting butterflies.  See you on the other side.

A Little Leverage

A Little Leverage.jpg

One of the classes I attended at Madrona last weekend was centered on Lever Knitting, and taught by the unsinkable Stephanie Pearl McPhee.  It is a technique employed by the worlds fastest knitters, and also by the world's most profitable ones, in terms of speed & production.  It requires totally relearning to knit.  And by that I mean needle-dropping-bad-word-saying-yarn-tangling Total Relearning.  I am a pretty darn fast knitter, so I wouldn't feel compelled to try, except that I am not an especially ergonomic knitter.  This way is much better, and I think if I can learn to do it even part of the time, I might save myself a wrist/elbow/shoulder blowout somewhere down the road.  Of course, that requires actually practicing, which I am dutifully doing.  Naturally I required a motivational incentive (okay, it's self-bribery, but who's splitting hairs?) in the form if this fun new yarn from Crystal Palace.  I'm using colors 102 & 104 in the classic 1 X 1 ribbed scarf.  Note the new channel islands cast-on, already pressed into service.  That was probably a tactical error, since it has no corresponding bind off, but heck - I don't really have to worry about that until the end, yes?

And while I'm still on the topic of Madrona, I would like to welcome all my new friends to the blog, and encourage them to comment and share.  Thank you all for befriending me, and I promise to post all the patterns we talked about, as soon as I can.

I am up to my eyes in knitting, which is just the way I like it.  Not least of which is a new pattern for Blackwater Abbey to inspire our SPRING knitting.  Yes, I have it on good authority (well, past experience, really - it's not like I have my own private groundhog or anything) that spring will, in fact arrive at some point in the near future.  Hold on - it's bound to get here.  In the meantime, stay tuned for a super-cute vest, guaranteed to make your handknit socks go up and down.

A Perfect Fit

I spent Friday in class with the lovely and talented Beth Brown-Reinsel, who has done more to preserve the art of the Gansey than any other single person.  She has been teaching this class for twenty years, she told us.  Think about that:  Still interested and still interesting on the same subject, after two decades.  Here we see Woody sporting the fruits of my labor.  Under Beth's gentle and watchful eye, the students all made real ganseys, in miniature.  Note the authentic sleeve gussets, and adorable Channel Islands cast-on at the hem.  I am so excited to add another picot variation to my repertoire - watch for that one to get used again early and often.

Looking around and beginning to meet people at Madrona, I am starting to understand what a special group of people these artists are.  The retreat is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, and the vast majority of attendees return year after year.  I'm pretty sure I'm going to become one of them.