Monday, March 30, 2009

A Whale of a Time

Stephanie wrote:

A few days ago the kids and I took a trip to the New Bedford Whaling Museum.  The museum is filled with information and artifacts from the days when New Bedford was a port for whaling boats. 

We learned that most whaling expeditions lasted 3 - 4 years.  We learned that whales are enormous and that a baby blue whale gains 200 pounds per day.  Right whales are the rarest of the whales with approximately 300 left in the Atlantic.  And did you know they used to make margarine with whale oil?

Baleen comes from a whale's jaw - it's used like a comb to filter the food.  After a whale was killed and processed, the baleen was used for all kinds of scrimshaw - elaborate, decorative carving and handiwork that the sailors did to while away the long hours at sea.

The museum is filled with many examples of scrimshaw - some plain and simple, others detailed and elaborate. The kids wandered ahead (I linger over museum displays) but soon raced back to get me. There was something I just had to see, something yarn related.

A beautiful swift.

Notice the pedestal and the little drawers.  

And there was another.

This one used yarn for demonstration purposes.  I imagine most museum visitors don't have the slightest idea what a swift is.

Right next to the swifts was this ornate sewing box - a work of art.

Note the spool holders on top.  And more little drawers - I love little drawers.  Pardon the reflection - all of these items are behind glass.

And last but not least, a work basket. 

The details on the needles - simple and elegant.

We had a great outing.  So much information, so much history, a way of life that's come and gone.  I'm sure we'll go back for another visit.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Longing for Lace

Stephanie wrote:

I've had the urge to work on a lace project - a nice, substantial shawl.  My eyes wander to various lace patterns online and in magazines. I scan my queue of projects looking for lace patterns I know I have saved for "someday".  Which pattern?  What yarn?

Until I decide I have this tidy little neck warmer to satisfy my hunger for lace.  This is Hoarfrost by Anne Hanson.

This has been a fast moving project.  Well, fast when I don't get distracted by a couple of other projects I have in the works.

This is shown in Twinkle Toes Chile Pepper.  I've been struggling with color and lighting so the color on the website is more accurate.  This pattern has wonderful texture and highlights the color variations of this yarn.  

Yes, this is destined to be a booth sample, but I'm going to start one for myself as soon as this one is off the needles.  And neck warmer projects make great go anywhere knitting.  They are a close second to socks when it comes to a knitting project that travels well.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Tubular Cast On in the Round for Socks

Mona Wrote:

I enjoy acquiring new skills and have tried many different cast on techniques in my quest to find one I love for socks. I think I may have found it. Check out the edge on this sock. Isn't it beautiful?

Best of all, it's super elastic. It's a two-row tubular cast on done in the round for a 1x1 rib. Here's the basic steps:

1. Cast on half the required number of stitches using waste yarn. The needle(s) used should be the same as those you plan to use for your sock cuff and the waste yarn should be the same weight as your sock yarn. In the sample pictured here, the sock required 72 stitches so I cast on 36 stitches onto my circular needle (I'm a magic loop sock knitter) using the backward loop cast on method.

2. Knit a few rounds using the waste yarn. In the sample pictured here, I knit one row straight, redistributed the stitches for knitting in the round and then knit several rounds with waste yarn. You don't need to knit as many rounds as I did -- only two are needed; I knit more rounds to create an easier-to-photograph sample. After completing 2+ rounds of knitting with the waste yarn, cut the yarn leaving a six inch tail.

3. Purl two rounds using your sock yarn. After completing the two rounds, look at your knitting. Notice that between each pair of purl stitches on your needles, you have a bump created with the sock yarn in the first purl row. You will also notice a bump between the last stitch on a needle and the first stitch on the next needle.

4. Create cuff edge. Purl the first stitch on your needle. Bring the working yarn to the back of your work. With your left hand needle, pick up the first sock yarn purl bump and knit it without twisting the stitch. If your needle tip picks up the purl bump in a top-down motion, you will knit into the back of the stitch; if your needle tip picks up the purl bump in a bottom-up motion, you will knit into the front of the stitch. Continue across all stitches, alternating between purling a stitch from the needle and knitting a purl bump. You have now doubled the number of stitches on your needles and established a 1x1 rib. If desired, you can shift your work one stitch to start each needle with a knit stitch.

5. Remove waste yarn. After completing several rows of 1x1 rib, you can remove the waste yarn. Using a spare needle and starting with the last stitch knit with waste yarn, pick out each waste yarn stitch around the cuff. In the sample pictured here, I knit several rows of twisted rib (k1tbl, p1) before picking out the last waste yarn row.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

SPA Recap

Stephanie wrote:

We had a wonderful time at SPA.  The weekend was a lot of work, but we did manage to squeeze in time for knitting and relaxing.  Neither of us planned to bring our wheels, and it's a good thing - the van was packed.

We spent Friday afternoon setting up our booth for the opening of the market that evening. Over the course of a year our booth has undergone many changes.  Currently it looks like this.

Being on the end the Luster Sox got plenty of petting.

SPA was the debut for our Build a Kit station.  Choose the mitt or neck warmer pattern of your choice, select the yarn from one of the baskets (various colors and fibers available) and you're good to go.  All of the available patterns require less than a full skein of yarn.  We package the yarn accordingly and pass the savings on to the customer.

Judging by the success of Build a Kit, I'm sure we'll offer it at our upcoming events.

Before we knew it the weekend was over, and we were packing up to head home.  We arrived just as a Nor'easter was getting ready to hit the area.

This past week found us diving back into the dye pots, cooking up more fun and color.