Thursday, February 25, 2010

Fiber in the Family

Craftiness runs in my mom’s side of the family. My grandmother was a quilter and a florist. My mom and her sisters always sewed their own school blouses (to match the mandatory navy blue jumpers) as high schoolers. My mom can sew, knit, crochet, embroider, make floral arrangements, oil paint, tole paint, decorate cakes, make ceramics, and more.

My cousin Lindy definitely inherited the crafty gene: she sells these adorable puppets from her Etsy shop.

Forest Friends 2- Felt Finger Puppet Set

Each set is made from Lindy’s own patterns.

Garden Gnome Set - Wool Felt Finger Puppets (3) - IN STOCK

These puppets would make a great gift for any kid!

Blast Off - Finger Puppet Set (5 puppets)

Monday, February 22, 2010


This is more of a status update than a post. But I just made impromptu stitch markers here in my work office, using a Starbucks cardboard coffee sleeve, a whole punch, and a pair of scissors. And I'm quite happy with myself for doing so.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Knitting Travels: Greenville, South Carolina

I traveled to Greenville, SC last week. While my S.O. was meeting with colleagues at Clemson’s Automotive Research campus to discuss advances in hydroelectric vehicles (below)….

… I hunkered down at Brew and Ewe, a delightful coffee shop that also features a gift shop where they sell various “woolens” and other handmade gifts, books, and the like. Unfortunately, “the like” did not include yarn, but this was a cozy place to do work and sneak in the occasional row of knitting.


I love love love their logo:


In the afternoon I took a break and checked out the Needle Tree, tucked away in a cute yellow cottage on a residential street.

yarn shop

They had a great sale corner, and such an adorable space. (Most of the yarn is in the back room, where the knitting circle was).

yarn shop 2

If you go, you can also say hello to Lola the cat and Houdini, the Bernise Mountain Dog (not pictured) who hold down the fort.

As for the yarn selection, you’ll find a nice assortment of common and not-so-common yarns, including Blue Heron Yarns, Mountain Colors, Louisa Harding, Blue Sky Alpacas, and the usual suspects (such as Malabrigo and Cascade).

Be sure to check to see what treasures are hidden in the draws and cupboards in this shop. That’s where I found this Shibui Knits sock:

blue yarn

Yes, it is sock yarn. It may or may not turn into socks… lately I’ve joined the shawlette trend and will have a few projects to share soon.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Heard around the house....

Scene #1:

Katie: I want German Angoras. You can spin their fur.

Michael: You want bunnies?

Katie: I want you to make me a bunny hutch.

[Michael laughs]

Katie: A bunny hutch is where rabbits live.

Michael: I know. You need to say "bunny hutch" a lot more.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Free Pattern & FO: Promenade Shawl

I loved the Colonnade shawl when I first saw it in Knitty. So beautiful.

But I dislike purling (feels like driving over speedbumps) and I much prefer double-sided scarves and shawls. So I modified Colonnade.

This modification was inspired by two current instances of awesomeness:

(1) Two Book: Reversible Knitting by Lynne Barr and Iris Schreier's Reversible Knits: Creative Techniques for Knitting Both Sides Right.

(2) Stephen West's Colonnade Shawl in the Fall 2009 edition of Knitty.

I give you Promenade.

First, go read Colonnade.

Yarn: 1 skein Malabrigo worsted in Vaa (dark green - color 1); 2 skeins Malabrigo worsted in a funny color that I dyed (multicolor - color 2).
Needles: Size 10

Follow directions from Colonnade through the "Set-Up Row."

Now you will follow the rest of the directions for the "Stockinette Section" BUT you will work in GARTER stitch.

Moving on to the lace section. Change to color 2 yarn. Knit 1 row.

Here's the lace pattern. Remember: you need to continue to increase every other row at the edges and around the markers, using YOs as per the Colonnade pattern. This lace pattern uses a multiple of 3 sts.

2-Sided Promenade Lace:

2yo = double yarn-over; wrap yarn 2x around needle.
sk2p = slip 1, knit 2 sts together, pass the slipped st over; creates a centered, 2-st decrease.

Row 1: k1, yo, k1, *2yo, sk2p*, repeat ** until 1 st remains before marker, yo, k1, slip marker, k1, yo, k1. Continue ** and working increases at markers as established, until 2 sts remain in row, k1, yo, k1.

NOTE: So long as you have a multiple of 3 sts on your needles, your 2yo-sk2p lace should work out exactly with the markers.

To make the larger eyelets using the 2yos, you will k the first loop of the yo, then purl the next loop, and k all other sts, like this:
Row 2: k3, *k1, p1, k1*, continue **

Rows 3, 4, 5, 6: Knit all rows. Remember: you need to continue to increase every other row at the edges and around the markers, using YOs as per the Colonnade pattern.


NOTE: Since you work this is a 6-row repeat, the number of sts between the markers will always be a multiple of 3, so your st count should always work with the yarn-overs at the markers.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Common Sense Crafts

This is why I crocheted rail guards for our crib all those months ago. [Free Pattern Here.] [Ravelry.]

Now that AJP is pulling himself up on everything, and chewing everything else, these are essential to keeping paint chips out of his mouth.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

FO: No-Seam Nimbus

Pattern: Nimbus
Designer: Berroco Design Team
Yarn Recommended: Berroco Peruvian Quick
Yarn Shown: Cascade Pastaza held double
Needles Used: Size 10 circulars
Size Shown: 40" Bust

I knit this using the No-Seam Nimbus instructions that I provided in an earlier post.

Lengthened the body by adding more rows of garter stitch.
Made cap sleeves, which is easy to do if you work the top-down set-in sleeve method. The sleeves are my favorite part of the sweater.

FYI: The double-thick Pastaza is way too heavy for this sweater. Not recommended.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I Mean This in the Nicest Way...

...But could someone please explain to me the obsession with sock knitting? I've knit socks, and here's what it seems like to me.

1. You knit on tiny needles, working excellent detail, in order to put them on your FEET and then into SHOES.

2. They wear out way too quickly, because of #1. Therefore, the [time to create] vs. [time to enjoy] ratio is way off.

3. The cost ratio of [socks in the store] vs. [socks to knit--both yarn and time] is also way off. I'm not saying that any of us knit to save money, but this is extreme--$30-40 for the sock yarn, hours and hours to knit, when you can find fine, comfy socks for a quarter. of a dollar.

But there are a lot of smart, creative people who knit socks. So I'm asking you, please explain it to me. Convince me to try again.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

No-Seam Nimbus

[updated 11/3/2010]

I love the Nimbus jacket from Berroco designs. It is one of those perfect knitting designs: simple, elegant, useful, and clean. [View on Ravelry.]

Here I endeavor to make it a little bit better, by offering a no-seam version of the pattern. It's still bottom-up, with set-in sleeves. I simply added a few modifications to the process (not the product) to make it even easier to knit.

Pattern: No-Seam Nimbus
Designer: Berroco Design Team, modified by Katie Rose Pryal
Yarn Recommended: Berroco Peruvian Quick
Yarn Shown: Cascade Pastaza held double
Needles Used: Size 10 circulars
Size Shown: 40" Bust

To knit this pattern, you need to go download the original Nimbus pattern first, and read it through.

Then, once you are familiar with it, you can use these modifications alongside the original pattern to knit the jacket without seams, following the steps below.

Skills you will need to work this pattern:
1. Short-row knitting (wrap-and-turn)
2. Kitchener stitch grafting
3. Picking up stitches

1. Starting at bottom hem: CO 112/124/136/148/160/172 sts. This is just the sum of the two front panels and the back panel sts in the original pattern.

NOTE: Because there is no seaming in this pattern, you should add 1-2" to the circumference of the finished product. You gain a coupla inches because you don't lose any fabric to seaming. Take that into consideration when selecting size.

2. Work in G st [garter stitch] for 4 inches, as per the original pattern.

3. Work the 1st 12 sts of each end in G st and work the rest in St st [stockinette stitch], until work measures length required in pattern from CO edge. End on WS row. Break yarn.

4. Separate fronts from back: On RS, place the first 28/30/32/34/37/39 sts onto scrap yarn. Join working yarn, then BO 6/8/10/12/12/14 sts [this is the first sleeve], K 44/48/52/56/62/66 [back panel], BO 6/8/10/12/12/14 sts [second sleeve]. Stop knitting (but do NOT break yarn) and place the remaining 28/30/32/34/37/39 sts onto scrap yarn.

5. Work the back alone through the "shape armholes" section. You can then continue to work as written in the pattern, and seam the top of shoulders as written. That's probably easiest for newer knitters. I offer the following scrap-yarn option, which makes this pattern technically "no-seam." Shape Shoulders: Place 4(4-5-6-7-7) sts onto scrap yarn at beg of the next 2 rows, then 3(4-5-5-6-7) sts at beg of the next 2 rows. Bind off remaining 24 sts for back neck. The sts on the scrap yarn will be grafted onto the front panels using kitchener stitch before you start the sleeves.

6. Pick up stitches from scrap yarn and work each front panel as written in the pattern. Once you reach the shoulders, you can place the shoulder sts on scrap yarn as per the back instructions I supply above.

7. Seam or graft (using kitchener stitch) the shoulder pieces together.


I recommend picking up and knitting the collar from the work, rather than knitting separately and seaming on.

1. With RS facing, PU [pick up] the stitches across the back panel of the work (e.g., 24 sts in size 40). Turn.

2. With WS facing, knit these 24 sts. THEN (this is important) PU 2 more stitches. You now have 26 sts on your needles. Turn.

3. With RS facing, k these 26 sts, then PU 2 more sts at end of row. You now have 28 sts on your needles. Turn.

4. Knit WS row, then PU 2 more sts at end. 30 sts on needles.

Repeat this until you have worked your way around to the front G st panels. When you reach these panels, you should switch to picking up only 1 st at either end of the row for the next 12 rows. Bind off.

At this point, you can work the sleeves as written in the pattern. Or you can pick up and knit the sleeves in the round, using short-row shaping at the shoulders.

The Short-Row Sleeve Cap Concept

Some great instructions are available on the web. Here at Purlwise, and here at Stolen Stitches. Knit and Tonic's book Custom Knits has a great tutorial. But we pretty much all owe this idea to Barbara G. Walker and her book Knitting from the Top. Knitty has a tutorial on set-in sleeves in general, with some info on top-down methods.

Short-row No-Seam Sleeves

Starting at the center bottom, pick up stitches all around the armhole opening. Place color A marker to indicate the beginning of round. Place a second color A marker at the exact center top of the sleeve, with equal number of sts on either side of the markers.

K 3/4/5/6/6/7, place color B marker, k until 3/4/5/6/6/7 sts rem before top marker, place color C marker, k until 3/4/5/6/6/7 sts after top marker, place second color C marker, k until 3/4/5/6/6/7 sts before bottom marker, place second color B marker. The B and C markers indicate the rows that need short rows. Starting at the beginning of a row, knit past the top marker to the top right marker, wrap and turn, knit to the left top marker, wrap and turn, then knit to the stitch past the first wrap, then wrap and turn, etc etc until you reach the B markers at the bottom of the sleeve cap. Then you can just work in the round.

Work 1 inch (or as much as you want) in St st, then 4 inches in G st, then bind off.


Monday, February 8, 2010

Ugh. Things I would Never Say

I would never tell someone who is designing a sweater how she should proceed unless she asked my opinion. Even if her knitting project looked like a giant barf-covered hairball, I would say, "It's Lovely."

From an Empirical point of view, my words would be a lie.

From an Aristotelian point of view, which suggests that truth is always a negotiation between the speaker, audience, and message of a given rhetorical situation, my words would not be a lie.

Because I (the speaker) would find it lovely that the knitter (my audience) would be willing to share their knitting with a total stranger.

No one should negatively comment on a unknown knitter's WIP unless they're prepared to be proven wrong in their opinion by the utter awesomeness that the project will eventually become.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Vintage Embroidery

If you read this blog regularly, you’ll know that I have a thing for 70s era textile art books: the more colorful and cheesier the better. Here’s my latest find: The Basic Book of Embroidery, by Jane Simpson (Octopus, 1973). The highlights include:

this whimsical and somewhat creepy wall hanging


This beadalicious snood (how I wish I would have had one of those back in my ballet days)


This Pucci-esque bedazzled top (you have to admit the fabric is pretty awesome)


And this lovely “evening purse”:


This looks more like a jazzy hot water bottle cover, especially since it is lying on what looks like a rumpled sheet.

In all seriousness, though, I kind of love some of the embroidery from this era—the psychadelic colors and geometric shapes are pretty cool. Cooler at least, than the cutesy, cartoonish and/or Victorian-looking patterns that seem to be popular today.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

HuffPo, stop with the Haterade

The Huffington Post featured a slide show this week of the “Geekiest Sweaters of All Time.” Don’t they know they are propagating hateful sentiments against knitters, as well as geeks? Who wouldn’t love to rock a sweater like this one?

Or this?

To quote Gilbert from the cinematic classic, Revenge of the Nerds: “no-one's gonna really be free until nerd persecution ends.” Nerds have rights, too. And that includes the right to wear boss sweaters like these ones.

Monday, February 1, 2010

FO: Tenley Cowl Sweater

One day, Jordynn and I met up at a coffee shop to work and knit, and she arrived wearing this fabulous sweater she'd just finished. The sweater was Tenley, which is now part of our Winter 2009-2010 pattern collection. I bought the yarn for it that very day.

This sweater is warm, but also dressy enough to teach in, with a skirt and tall boots, when the weather is cold. As a professor, I spend a lot of time outdoors, walking across campus. Sweaters like this one are a must.

When I finished it yesterday, we were getting dumped with snow--the most we've had since we bought this house. I was loving the big ole cowl.


Pattern: Tenley Cowl by Jordynn Jack of the Knitty Professors [Ravelry]

Size: 40" bust, but with a larger gauge to create more ease (4 sts per inch). (Then I brought it in more in the waist/cable area. Trying to de-emphasize the post-partum belly.)

Yarn: Paton's Classic Wool Merino in Merlot Heather

Needles: Size 8s for body, 7s for ribbing


(1) I worked this in a looser gauge than called for to create fullness, the really pulled it tight with the cables underneath the bust, by downsizing needles and decreasing a few stitches.

(2) I also (accidentally!) modified the center "medallion" cable. Don't do as I did--follow Jordynn's instructions instead.

(3) I decreased to 33 sts at the cuffs, creating a slight blouson at the end of the main part of the sleeve.


So cuddly and warm. Go make one.