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Santa Fe Mitts Progress

July 21

I’ve had fun raiding my sock yarn stash for the Santa Fe Mitts I’m designing. I settled on Lorna’s Laces for the oranges, blues and greens. The deep reddish color is named “Manzanita” – the arid climate plant with the lovely red stems. Perfect!

Regia 4-Ply provides the heathered background colors. I’m going for the look of rocks and tree bark.

Santa-Fe-Mitt-2

After a few more adjustments, and my tech editor finding all the mistakes that I’m sure aren’t there when I read the pattern, and the Santa Fe Mitts pattern will be ready. It’ll be sized for men, in mens’ medium and large.

Santa Fe Inspiration

July 8

Last year my husband and I were enrolled in a week-long photo workshop put on by National Geographic. It was held in Santa Fe – we’d never been there before.  Some of the photography sessions started early in the morning.

Naturally, I wanted to accessorize my hubby. I latched onto  fingerless mitts as a way to keep his hands warm but dexterous in the cool mountain air. I looked at photos of the area, and grabbed some items from around our house that fit the area’s color palette. Then I got swatching. Here’s my inspiration board:

Santa-Fe-Inspiration-sml

I like the earthy orange in the pot, but opted to replace its grayish/teal with the more vibrant blue in the picture frame. A splash of green made a good accent against the oranges, and represents the foliage found in the riparian parts of the region.

Sadly, my husband broke his elbow – spectacularly, poor guy – just before we were to go. So I put aside the project until now. I think it’ll be a great pattern for Fall, even if it is a year and a lot of miles away from Santa Fe!

I like the colors together and have finished a preliminary chart for the fair isle pattern. I love this stage of designing!

Book Review: Ethnic Knitting

April 22

Abraham Lincoln once wrote, “I’m sorry I wrote such a long letter. I did not have the time to write a short one.” The book review that follows is long, but I couldn’t seem to pare it down any further without skipping some of  the book’s great qualities.

Ethnic Knitting Exploration: Lithuania, Iceland, and Ireland ek2_front-cover-rule

I love sweaters that incorporate ethnic designs, so I was pleased to read “Ethnic Knitting Exploration: Lithuania, Iceland, and Ireland”. The author, Donna Druchunas, walks you through all the steps and techniques required to design sweaters, and some smaller practice projects, with an ethnic flair. She clearly explains how to use color and texture stitch patterns from Lithuania, Iceland and Ireland in your designs.

Right from the introduction, I liked Druchunas’s approach. In a concise yet friendly manner she explains why she uses certain sweater styles, rather than others. This means you’ll end up with a sweater that is flattering rather than too boxy.

She goes on to cover some knitting basics: how to determine your sweater’s size, and how to knit in the round, including the two circular needles and the magic loop methods. This chapter makes a good primer for the beginning knitter and a nice reference for those with more experience. I’ve knitted sweaters before using short rows to shape the shoulders. But I learned something new in her description of short-row shaping for a sweater back. That said, I wished for more information on how to know whether to use this technique prior to starting the design process. Druchunas says that some body types like this adjustment, but I’d like to know what types those are.

I love the book’s format. The chapters on Lithuania, Iceland and Ireland include interesting facts about the origins of knitting in each region. Druchunas presents a variety stitch patterns from each – color ones from Lithuania and Iceland, and textures and cables for the Irish Aran tradition. Then there is a practice project and sweater project. Every project includes wonderful step-by-step instructions. You fill in the blanks on the worksheets and end up with your own design, customized for the fit and stitch patterns you’ve chosen.

I wanted to test out the book’s methodology. I chose the Fingerless Gloves project from the chapter on Lithuania. From making a gauge swatch to adjusting the stitch pattern to knitting the gloves, I found it very easy to make my own customized gloves. All I had to do was fill in the blanks on the worksheets. Each worksheet lays the foundation to make an entire pattern – painlessly.

fingerless-gloves-2

The project was so logically presented, my confidence is boosted for making a sweater next. The only hard part will be choosing from among all the lovely stitch patterns!

If you’re interested in buying “Ethnic Knitting Exploration: Lithuania, Iceland, and Ireland”, you can find it here on Amazon. Donna Druchunas’s  web site, Sheep To Shawl, describes the other books she’s written.

fingerless-gloves-and-book

Fingerless Gloves

April 18

I’ve been looking forward to finishing the Fingerless Gloves from the book I’ll be reviewing in a few days. I had a great time knitting them, in part because the author has a really neat way of guiding you through the design process. Here’s my creation, based on the project guidelines in the book.

fingerless-gloves-2

I made the ribbing extra long to keep my wrists warm as I take photos. I also crocheted a little border around the thumbholes to give them a bit of extra support.

These will be living in my camera bag so they’ll be at hand when I go out on cool mornings to shoot wildlife (we’re talking pictures) and flowers.

fingerless-gloves-3

I used odds and ends from my stash. The yarn smorgasbord includes Knit Picks Merino Style and Swish DK, Mission Falls 136 Merino Superwash, and a smidge of Rowan’s RYC Cashsoft DK.

fingerless-gloves-1

[Many thanks to hubby Steve who once again patiently played the part of knitwear photographer for the shot of me in my gloves!]

Confessions of a Reluctant Picker

April 13

I recently took a class in Continental knitting. Having learned the English  method, I was jealous of the speedy, smooth stitching my Continental friends were doing. I was determined to change my throwing ways to picking.

So, I learned the Continental style like five minutes ago. And I’m starting a new project – perfect time to switch knitting techniques, right? Oh, yeah, brilliant idea. My new fingerless gloves project  involves ribbing. And double-pointed needles. And striping.

Somewhere there is a  Knitters’ Big Book of No-No’s prescribing tenets like 1. Thou Shalt Not Start the New Method until You’ve Practiced A Lot. 2. Thou Shall Start With a Simple Project 3. A Simple Project Shall Not Consist of DPNs and A Glove of Many Colors, and finally, 4. Thou Shalt Not Resort to Mixing in English Stitches Even If Thou Becomest Miffed and Frustrated.

So far I have turned blue because I concentrate so hard I forget to breathe. I’ve had to break out a box of kleenex (although, to be fair, some of the tears may be residual from watching “Marley and Me”). I’ve created stitches so tight that and tense the fabric is one big pucker. I’ve broken all the rules in the Knitters’ Big Book of No-No’s.

I’m on row 4.

Fingerless Mitts Swatch

April 8

Remember that picture of the yarns as seen through the Teleidoscope? You don’t?? Ok, to refresh your memory here it is:

teleidoscope-5a-colors

Here are how the colors came together in the actual swatch:

swatch1

The swatch is my launching point for making fingerless gloves from a book I’ll be reviewing later in the month.  The book walks the knitter through all aspects of planning and designing her own projects. Now that I have a color combination that I like and gauge from my swatch, I’ll follow the author’s simple worksheets to create fingerless gloves just the way I want them.  I can hardly wait to get started!

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