Reading your knitting

This week in the newsletter, I encourage you to take the Reading Your Knitting class this weekend.  It is so empowering to truly understand not only what happens to your fabric, but why.  I am big into the why of things.  As a little girl, I always hated that ubiquitous adult rejoinder, “Because I said so!”  As if I wasn’t smart enough for the reason.  If a kid is smart enough to argue with you, she is smart enough to deserve an honest explanation.  Most knitting patterns don’t have room to explain the why of every direction, but assume a certain level of confidence.  As a new knitter, I followed patterns exactly as they were written – I didn’t know any better.  Good patterns helped develop my arsenal of effective techniques, and poor patterns showed me what not to do – after it was too late, of course.  What a painful and frustrating way to learn!  How I wish there had been a resource like Sally Melville’s The Knit Stitch and The Purl Stitch when I was learning.  I love Sally’s approach to knitting – she always tells you why!  Her books are a perfect marriage of pattern, teaching, and resource.  She gives you a terrific pattern, shows you all the techniques you’ll need to follow it, and explains how each thing you’re doing affects the outcome.

In our classes we use the same approach.  We focus on teaching you the skills you need, but also on why certain things are done certain ways.  This approach allows you to extrapolate and apply what you learn to a variety of situations.  We want to give you the confidence to decide that “Because I said so,”  is simply not a good enough reason, and the power to choose the path you like for the results you want.

Sound intriguing?  Here are the details about the class in La Plata and Leonardtown.  Hope to see you there.

TNNA 2013

Rowan mannequin
Rowan mannequin Kidsilk Haze wrap

Lynne and I spent Saturday and Sunday in Columbus, OH at TNNA.  TNNA is the trade show where vendors large and small come to tempt retailers with their latest products.  It’s basically the yarn industry’s Fashion Week, and I always come away exhilarated and inspired.  some booths are dressed thematically and give you the sense of stepping into another world.  Rowan does an outstanding job of presenting their offerings. This year they had a masquerade theme, and all the mannequins were dressed as if headed to a masked ball with taffeta evening gowns and hand-knit sweaters.

At TNNA I like to see in person those vendors I mostly talk to on the phone.  I had a chance to meet Deb McDermott of Shepherd’s Wool,  Arthur Karpeteyan of Karabella Yarns, and Demien Savits of Blue Heron Yarns.  At his booth, Demian showed us several beautiful garments that will be part of our Blue Heron trunk show next month.  It’s so different to see the yarns and the samples up close and in person – to be able to feel the fabric and try them on. I’m so excited to offer you the same chance to see these lovely things!  Take a peek at some [**here**](


Sandra McGyver, Sally Melville, and me at the Knit, Swirl booth
Sandra McGyver, Sally Melville, and me at the Knit, Swirl booth

TNNA is also the place where we get to catch up with designers,teachers, and yarn professionals — to make plans for how to share their offerings with you.  Saturday we had lunch with Sally Melville and planned a weekend of wonderful classes for next June.  Then we met with Stacy Charles of Tahki Stacy Charles Yarns.  We ordered a bunch of dazzling sparkly yarns, as well as a gorgeous new cashmere tweed.  He has several sample garments he’s sending us – luxurious accessories you can do with just a couple of skeins.  We spent a lot of time in Sandra McGyver’s booth trying on different sizes and shapes of [**Swirls**](  That was really fun too.

Sunday we met with Chris Bylsma, tried on her new designs, and scheduled a brand new class event for this September.  We asked Claudia of Claudia’s Handpaints to join us and bring a gorgeous display of silks and merinos for you to see.

It was a long couple of days, but so worth it.  I have so many things coming that I think you’ll really love, and I can’t wait to share them with you.  The first is the Blue Heron trunk show July 19th and 20th.  Mark your calendar, because you do not want to miss this event.

Merrily we Swirl Along

The SwirlAlong in Leonardtown was quite lively.  Connie and Jeannie both cast on and were able to join in the round.  Sigrid swatched, and Shelly got ready to swatch.  Althea brought in two swatches she had worked so that she could decide which needle size was right for her project.  She had worked one on size 6 needles, and the other on size 4
Here are the two swatches right off the needles.  The swatch on the left was done on size 6 needles; the one on the right, size 4.

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Unblocked swatches

You may be at this exact spot with your Swirl.  It would be tempting to simply measure the gauge here, but it would only give you a piece of the picture.  So much of a Swirl depends on the blocking, and your taste in fabric.  Sandra McGyver gives details on this point in her blog here.  Following Sandra’s lead, I got out the blocking board and we pinned the two swatches into 8×8 squares.  First the swatch from size 6 needles.

As we pinned this swatch, it needed no stretching to get to 8 inches across.  In fact, I felt as if I needed to smoosh it into its 8″ boundary a bit, even with stretching the length to 8 inches.  All pinned out, it looks nice, but really just a tad droopy.

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Swatch done on size 6 needles

The size 4 needle swatch needed a little coaxing to reach 8″ in width, but it wasn’t a fight.  Same with getting it to 8″ in length.  Pinned out, it showed the structure of the alternating merino and Kidsilk Haze welts.

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Swatch done on size 4 needles
Blocked side by side
Blocked side by side

Althea and I discussed the possibility of doing another swatch on size 5 needles but she decided that she was going with the size 4 needles.  I think that’s a good decision, and here’s why:

  • Althea really liked the look of the fabric at that gauge
  • Her fabric already has plenty of drape and will benefit from a slightly tighter gauge overall
  • The fabric lends itself to hard blocking if necessary
  • Althea is petite, and the coat could end up too long if it stretched out, which is more likely in a loosely knit fabric.

I had to rip out my swatch Friday as I had not been paying attention and had done the wrong number of rows in my welts.  Alas…

Hazel Knits dk Lively

DK Lively colors

Part of our order from Hazel Knits arrived last week.  I was most excited about their dk weight yarn, a relatively new weight for them.  It’s called DK Lively, but it really should be called “DK Lovely”  This is one gorgeous yarn – nice and round with a great spin.  It’s plied and has a perfect twist – not too much, not too little – like Baby Bear’s porridge, it’s just right.  It has a terrific hand – smooth and elastic without feeling overly stretchy.

Then there are the colors.  Wendee, owner of Hazel Knits, really gets color.  She manages to get colors that are at once brilliant and sophisticated.  There is nothing garish or clownish about Hazel Knits colors. She is truly and artist – and a really nice person too.

I was in love with this yarn just from the feel and look of it in the skein, but you know we like to put the yarn through its paces.  Jenny and Lynne have both swatched it, and they agree that it more than hits the mark.  Jenny has chosen it for her Vodka Lemonade knit along coming up in a couple of weeks.  Lynne did a nice generous swatch on several needle sizes and in several stitch patterns and then washed it in the washing machine and ran it through the dryer.

DK Lively swatch machine washed and dried

In her email about the swatch, Lynne said, “What you can’t tell just from the photo is that after wash and dry, the fabric feels like VELVET!!  Swatch sections at 5 st/inch and 5.5 st/inch. No shrinkage, no change in gauge. Just lovely bloom from the fiber.  Based on post-wash feel, I suspect that this yarn would work at 4.5 and at 6 as well, depending on the project.”  

I mentioned that it might make a nice Swirl Coat, and she said, that “nice” would be a cosmic understatement! 

A swirl in the DK Lively would take between 6 and 8 skeins, depending on which style and which size you choose.  It would be a little pricey, but so worth it.  I think it’s calling me.

Lady in Red!!

In a photo courtesy of her Cobb Island pal Bernadette, Beverlie rocks the RED in her freshly finished Krista Tee (they’re both wonderful knitters!).

Beverlie picked the brilliant Revlon-red Phoenix cotton for her Krista Tee—a sale-zone score both gorgeous and budget-friendly.

Take-away wisdom? Two things: First, just as Ellen wrote about in a recent newsletter—Knit in colors that make you happy. Happy colors make us smile (see that beautiful grin on Beverlie’s face?), and a smile is absolutely the most effective beauty treatment ever.

Second: Make sure you stop into the shop regularly, to see what treasures have moved into the Sale Zone! Just for instance, if you’d feel as great as Beverlie looks in a Krista Tee in elegant black, or rich royal purple, I just happen to have Krista-quantities of Phoenix (100% mercerized cotton, with a great sheen; machine wash, dry flat) in the Sale Zone in La Plata, for 40% off!

Plus we have a bunch of other summer-perfect yarns in stock right now, many of which are on sale for 20% off (right in the front of the store). Others are full price, and worth every penny, I promise!

Thanks for sharing the photo, Bernadette. And three cheers to Beverlie, for another beautiful finished project! As one of our favorite designers and teachers says, “Knit what you’ll wear. And wear what you knit!!”

New Noro Magazine

Okay, you know that I am a hopeless Noro addict.  The colors, the fibers, the whole aesthetic just me.  So, you know I was super jazzed about the new magazine.  This is the Spring Summer issue, and it has so many adorable garments and accessories I just can’t believe it.

They’ve focused on smaller, lighter weight projects using their fingering weight yarns.  While the labels call sock yarns, I think something was lost in the translation, because as lovely as they are, these fibers are not really great for socks.  They are, however, spectacular for lacy shawls like these

Perfect for relaxed summer projects, these shawls use only the simplest of pattern stitches, relying instead on gorgeous Noro colors to make the statement.  Fun to knit, fabulous to wear.  All the colors of Taiyo Sock in stock at both stores now!