Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Spring in the Rockies

This was the first day that the scent of Spring was in the air. It is a funny thing here in the mountains because it can feel, smell and sound like spring one day and be a raging blizzard the next. This goes on until, at least, mid-May.

No matter that I am wearing my winter coat still, it was treat to smell the warming ground and hear the advance robins warbling.

Hope you are finding spring in small pockets.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Fair Isle Complete - On To Other Things

The Fair Isle hat project is complete! Thanks to mom for modelling it for the picture.

It was a really fun knit. I have found the yarn to make another one using this Aspen Leaf pattern. I am doing the main color in a spring green and the leaves in gold, more representative of Colorado.

I also have plans to do the faux Fair Isle hat from Interweave Knits magazine Summer 2007 called the Syncopated Cap. It is done with sock yarn and the most difficult part so far is finding a solid sock yarn in a nice color to complement the fun varigates. I have managed to find two different versions for two hats so far. I found Sisu and Fortissima Socka in solid color and Happy Feet by the Plymouth Yarn Co. for the varigates. The sample of the hat I got to fondle is lightweight and very soft. I think it will make a great hat for fall and spring wear. And the hunt goes on for more solid color sock yarn.

Besides hat knitting I am working on the last of the swatches, designing a beginner project that incorporates the basic knitting principles and writing up my explanation sheet for review Level One of KIC. My goal is to have it mailed to my mentor by the end of March.

Hope your month is bringing you lots of happy moments and memories!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Fair Isle: continued

Here is the progress I have made on my Fair Isle class from my class.

I showed it with the chart which depicts an aspen leaf.

The two color ribbing was challenging, however, I think, it gives that part of the hat a little more oomph.

The real challenge was the two-color long tail cast on which I have since practiced on another sample piece just to keep it fresh in my mind. I find that is where I lose momentum is when I learn a new cast on, knit a project and move onto something else, then come back a month or so later and want to do that cast on again. Sometimes the written instruction no longer makes any sense and I have to fumble around with it or go for help.

The things I learned about Fair Isle from the class at Knitter's Kove are as follows:

1. Two-color long tail cast on must be done slowly, methodically and practiced often to retain its intracies.

2. To avoid an optical illusion, hold the MC (main color) in your right hand if you knit English, left if you knit Continental and your CC (contrasting color) in the opposite hand.

3. If you ever use a provisional cast on, use a strand of thin satin ribbon to hold the stitches. It makes it easy to rethread them onto the knitting needles.

4. Start and read each line of the chart from where the number is.

5. Fair Isle is mainly knit in the round. They say the reason for this is because no one really wants to purl back in pattern.

6. Do not stack the woven stitches, do the weaving in different spots each row. Besides hiding it from the front of the work it also adds elasticity to the piece overall.

7. And, I found that I personally knit tighter doing Fair Isle. So, if you are going to do a piece, knit a gauge swatch in Fair Isle to check your tension. I thought I would eventually loosen up as it got more familiar and comfortable, but not so. For this hat I may try the next on a size up larger needle.

8. Use stitch markers between each pattern section. It makes counting if you find a mistake so much easier.

My next hat from this pattern will be done in spring green for the MC and gold for the CC (leaf motif) for obvious reasons. I like the one I am doing now because purple with gray is one of my favorite color combinations.

I hope to be done with this hat by the weekend and will try to get it modeled for a picture. Happy pursuits of your passions!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Fair Isle Adventure

While I am working on my first level of KIC, I have to watch for classes that will help me achieve the second level when I am ready to work on it.
So I perused the offerings at my LYS's and found two classes close to home, at Knitter's Kove, one for a Fair Isle hat and the other for an Intarsia pillow top.

The Fair Isle class started Saturday and all we concentrated on for those two hours was the long-tail cast-on in two colors. For the first hour we puzzled and struggled with the cast-on. Finally everyone seemed to grasp the concept and get the required stitches on the needles, then we joined without a twist, with much discussion of moebius. Our homework assigment is to knit an inch and a half of two color ribbing in a two by two configuration. Does not sound hard on the one page pattern, however the purling with the second color in the round while I am trying to learn the two-handed technique has proven challenging. Our final class this Saturday is to learn how to read a graph and knit to it. Looks a little like cross stitch to me. The pattern we are doing is a hat with an aspen leaf motif. I am doing it in purple and gray (the picture does not show that very well, I will try to get a better one later) Plymouth Yarn Encore. It is 75% acrylic and 25% wool. Feels cozy warm yet is washable, a nice feature for a hat.

The class is not being taught as a two-handed class. That is my own desire to learn how to do it like it is shown on the Philosopher's Wool website.
So I have two more rows of homework to do on this hat then I am practicing the two color cast on for a sampler purse (pattern on PW site) and practice the two-handed method.

The instructor told us that they do not teach Fair Isle very often so I am glad I happened to catch it when I did.

While I am working on swatches and class homework I have embellished and shipped a surprise gift to a friend whose name and location will remain nameless until I am certain it has arrived.

And how does Pedro feel about all this fiber massaging that I am doing morning and evening...well, he is more interested in massaging his couch blanket and visiting with his fish buddy to be bothered by my clicking needles.

Hope you are following your dreams, spending time with the important people (and critters) in your life and staying warm this winter.