iCloud Sync

Knitamus now supports data syncing through your iCloud account, which is good if you'd like to be able to use Knitamus on more than one device.  To turn sync on, visit the Settings tab of the app and flip the switch!

The Inside Story

The iCloud system will, I think, be more reliable than Dropbox (which is what Knitamus used until the service ended) and, I hope, use less of your battery and bandwidth.  It requires more work from the app, though.  Especially for lists of things, like the list of chart positions you've saved for a project, Dropbox automatically handled situations where you'd added a position on your phone and deleted one from your iPad.  With iCloud, Knitamus has to handle conflicts like that on its own.

When you add in syncing your project list with Ravelry (a feature I wouldn't want to be without!), things get complicated quickly.

Since duplicate data is annoying but lost data is terrifying, I've tried to err on the side of keeping more than you might want rather than deleting more than you might want.  If you notice any problems, please let me know!  Your input helps me make continuous improvements.  :)

Oddities

If you are syncing with CloudKit and with Ravelry, you may find it difficult to delete projects.  I'm working out a solution for this, but for now if you need to delete a project, I would suggest deleting the project from the Ravelry website, then putting your device in airplane mode before opening Knitamus and deleting the project there.  You'll probably need to do this on every device that has the project.

You may find that you sometimes get an extra empty project.  I think this is also related to using iCloud sync and Ravelry sync at the same time.  I'm looking into this problem as well.  :)

Dresses Herself

Shmoogie is not one to fret over how to wear her handknits.  She knows the truth: they go with everything

1. Cardigan handknit by Mommy. 2. Summer dress by Hanna Andersson. 3. Christmas tights by Hanna Andersson. 4. Navajo juniper berry necklace, to ward off nightmares.

1. Cardigan handknit by Mommy. 2. Summer dress by Hanna Andersson. 3. Christmas tights by Hanna Andersson. 4. Navajo juniper berry necklace, to ward off nightmares.

Oof

Further Update (10/28):  I've just released 2.2.1, which should fix the crash if you were experiencing it.  Thank you for your patience and please let me know if you are still having any issues!

Update:  I think you may be able to stop Knitamus from crashing on you by removing its Dropbox permission.  You'll have to do this through the Dropbox website.  Log in and click on your username (in the top right corner) and choose "Settings".  In settings, choose the Security tab and then scroll all the way to the bottom.  You should see the apps that you've granted Dropbox access to listed there.  Click the little 'x' that's all the way on the right hand end of the row for Knitamus to remove Dropbox permission for the Knitamus app.  You'll want to keep the files in that folder (you will be asked; keeping the files is the default).  I hope that is helpful and, again, I'm sorry!

Sometimes software, like some knitting projects, just doesn't go according to plan.  I don't want to spend a lot of time writing here because I want to get things fixed as quickly as I can and I need to spend some time doing that, but I do want to let you know what's going on.

I pressed go on an update to Knitamus last night.  It's an update that's been in the works for several months and has come this close to release several times, but one thing after another has sent me back for one more revision.  When I pressed go, I was pretty confident that nothing terrible was still lurking in the code.

Unfortunately, there was.  If you were already connected to Dropbox in the app, your Knitamus is probably crashing on you right now.  I'm really sorry.  Honestly, I'm not sure how that got through.  I've removed the app from sale for now, to prevent anyone else from getting the bad version.  And I'm working on a fix which I will ask Apple to review as quickly as possible.  Fingers crossed you'll be back up and running soon.

Thanks so much for your understanding.

Promises

I hardly ever buy yarn without knowing precisely what it's going to become, but this was special and it is fun!  I've dreamed and sketched and wound... and I still don't know for sure.  There's a lot of swatching and very careful measuring ahead before I'll have any confidence my idea will work.  Those tiny balls are very very tiny!

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Handspun

I've just started knitting a Hamlin Peak for myself, inspired by a knitter who wrote to me for advice on changing the gauge of it using Knittrick!   And I'm knitting it from a beautiful handspun I lucked into at my guild's stash swap last year. 

It's a BFL 2-ply by Sandi Spins. I don't think she has a website, so if you'd like contact info, email me! 

It's a BFL 2-ply by Sandi Spins. I don't think she has a website, so if you'd like contact info, email me! 

It has long color runs and, being a handspun, isn't totally predictable, so I (wisely?) decided to take some advice I gathered somewhere along the way that alternating skeins would be a good idea to break up the colors.

I was partway into this plan when I remembered the last time I did this and how hard it was to remember which skein I should be using when, since you end up with a working yarn at both ends of the piece and if you're using a cable needle...  Well, it gets confusing.

But the repeating row note feature of Knitamus was a huge help here.  I made a 4-row repeat like so:

I don't think it's really going to be 803 rows!  But I'll just stop when I'm done. (And, yeah, I need to plug in!)

I don't think it's really going to be 803 rows!  But I'll just stop when I'm done. (And, yeah, I need to plug in!)

And now I'm very sure where I should be and which end I should be working every time, even if I don't have time to get through more than one row in one sitting! 

Pricing

I've decided to make Knitamus a pay-once-to-download app.  This means you can choose to buy it now and never worry about having to pay for it again!

If you have ever purchased a subscription, thank you very very much!  I have ideas for future options, including advanced features for an in-app purchase.   As a subscriber, you will get those extras for free.

If you're curious about why I decided to try a subscription model in the first place, you can still read my post about it if you'd like.

If you're curious about why I've changed my mind, read on.  My goals for Knitamus haven't changed.  I still want it to be a sustainable project that knitters can enjoy for through many revisions of iPhones, iPads, and now Apple Watches!  But a year in, I have to admit that the subscription model wasn't working.  Maybe that was because the app was already really useful without a subscription (I wanted you to really love it before you paid).  But if I'm honest with myself, I think it was mostly that subscriptions are annoying.  As a user of software myself, I don't like them either, even if I do think they make logical sense.

The best thing about Knitamus being a paid download is that you can now get a discount if you'd like to own both Knitamus and Knittrick!  Check out the Knitting Bundle in the App Store.  Even if you've already purchased one or the other, you will still get the full discount (about 20%) if you decide to complete your bundle.

If you'd like to support Knitamus, it would be wonderful if you would tell your friends about it or show it to your local yarn store!  Leaving a quick review on the App Store is also very easy and very helpful.

Thank you for your support!

Apple Watch Giveaway!

What if your watch could keep track of your knitting?

You'll be able to work with several of your most recent WIPs.  Update your row counter and check your notes!  Dictate new notes!  Even repeating ones!

To celebrate, I have one watch* to give away!

How to enter:

Leave a comment on this post!  What should you say?  Anything to convince me you're a real person who likes to knit or crochet.  :)  I'd love to visit your Ravelry project, blog post, or project photo if you include a link!

Comments will close on Friday, May 8th at 11:00 PM Pacific Time**

One entry per person, please.  Newsletter subscribers may enter twice (just leave a second comment that says something like "I'm a newsletter subscriber!").   Winner chosen at random from the comments!  And, yes, I am willing to attempt international shipping!

* The watch in question is a 38mm Apple Watch Sport with fluoroelastomer band.  The watch requires an iPhone 5 or later (and running iOS 8.2) to be useful.  (Phone is not included in this giveaway.)  I will also include a free download of Knitamus for the watch winner and two runners up!

** Why 11:00 PM?  Because I can never remember whether midnight is 12:00 PM or 12:00 AM or whether midnight belongs to the day before it or the day after it.  11:00 PM is simpler, right?

 *********************

Thanks so much for playing, everyone!  I have been enjoying visiting your projects (still have a few to get to!)

Congratulations to Susan C, whose lucky number came up the winner!

Useful

Believe it or not, my first ideas for Knitamus didn't even include the chart view.  I was just thinking about keeping repeating notes straight for myself in things like this sweater.  (And, no, it hasn't been blocked yet.)

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In retrospect, I think the smart thing to do would be knit the cable yoke, then pick up stitches for the neck and body/sleeves.  But that's not what I did (possibly it was a semi-rational choice to start all the ribbing with a tubular cast on instead of finishing it with a tubular cast off and the attendant endless grafting, but I think I just wasn't thinking).  No, I knit the sweater and the sleeves and joined them to start the yoke and then did the first decrease round and then provisionally cast on for the upper yoke AND for the yoke cable and proceeded to knit it on as I went.

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This was tricky.  Partly because knitting things on is always a little trickier than just plain knitting, but mostly because of the curve.  And math.

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I knew I needed to pull in an extra existing stitch every 6 rows of the cable.  But I was working a short row in each cable repeat on the outside edge to make the cable curve for the yoke.  So there was an extra end-of-row on the outside edge every time.

Honestly, I think I would have gone a little batty trying to keep straight the cable pattern and the never-matching-up extra stitch attachments on my own.  But if you ever get yourself in this situation, fear not!  It actually wasn't that bad with Knitamus.

One 7-row repeat handled the notes for the 6-row cable, plus the extra short row, and the extra stitch attachment on the inner edge (because that always lined up with the cable, every 6th row of a 6-row cable, the short row being meaningless on the inner edge).  One more 6-row repeat reminded me when to use up two stitches when attaching to the outside curve, which came at different points in the cable each time as the 7-row repeat cycled through its paces separately.

I think that sounded complicated.

How about a simpler example?  The sleeves on the baby's sweater increased every 8 rows.  But the cable pattern covered 6 rows.  Two separate repeating notes, no worries. :)

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From a Friend

The last day of summer we did a bunch of things that I don't remember.  What I do remember is that my two older kids were squabbling non-stop and I was in a pretty terrible mood when we got home.

There was a package at the door, though, addressed to the new baby, and in it was this adorable Tiny Trees Vest, made by a good friend on the other coast who I miss very much.

Pattern:  Tiny Trees Vest by Kylie Bates Yarn:  Berroco Ultra Alpaca

Pattern:  Tiny Trees Vest by Kylie Bates

Yarn:  Berroco Ultra Alpaca

 I give a lot of knitting, but I hardly ever receive any.  This rare treat turned my day around!  I don't know if the non-knitters I knit for recognize it, but the magic of a knitted gift is the hours your knitter was thinking of you while making all those stitches.  A knitted gift is an expression of love and esteem you can hold in your hands and use to keep yourself or your beloveds warm.  It is a treasure.

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Why a Subscription?

The ideas behind Knitamus had been sloshing around in my head, leaking out in sketches and scribbled notes for years before I finally started writing the code to make them real.  All through that time, I was also thinking about how Knitamus could sustain itself financially.

You probably know that it takes a lot of time and skill to build an app, but it also takes time, skill, and commitment to keep an app improving in tandem with Apple’s fast-paced updates to the underlying software and hardware.  I've learned through experience that it's hard to sustain that effort if an app isn't earning its keep, especially if you also want to make the app even better by writing new code to do extra fun and useful things.

The potential audience for Knitamus will always be relatively small (there are many knitters, of course, but only a few have iPhones or iPads or want to use an app while they knit).  With that in mind, I considered all the usual (and some less usual) options.  For each one, I also thought carefully about what exactly it would encourage me to do and, on the other hand, how it might affect the way you use the app and feel about it.

In the end, a subscription made perfect sense.  It was the only idea that made sense, actually!  This way, if you like the app — and you have five projects to try it out on first — you can support it for as long as you keep using it.  I want you to keep using it, so I need to keep the app working well and keep it getting better.  Isn't that how things ought to be?

My goal is simple — for Knitamus to be a sustainable project (most mobile apps aren't) so that you can continue to enjoy a quality app designed just for knitters (and built by a knitter!) for years to come.  Thank you so much for supporting this effort!

If you want to chat with me about this or anything else, feel free to send me an email from the Contact page.  I love to hear from you.  :)

Found!

The most amazing miracle started off our hike near Mt. Ranier yesterday.  My husband was loading up his big serious backpack with food and drinks for all eight walkers in our party and when he opened up a small top pocket, he said, "Oh, look," and held a lavender wad of fabric out to me.

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It was the lovely silk scarf he'd given me once and, lo! my Veyla mitts.  I had made them from a beautiful Ysolda Teague pattern, in a soft heathered alpaca yarn, with abalone shell buttons that I had bought on our honeymoon more than ten years ago.

They had disappeared three years ago, two household moves ago(!), and I had just recently given up hope of ever finding them.  I must have left them on a store counter or on a bus or not checked the pockets of a coat before giving it away, I figured.  I didn't even know which continent they were on.

I was pretty sad.  I mean, to lose a handknit is always horrible.  But I could have knit another pair.  I might have even liked the second pair better.  But there was no going back in time ten years and buying another set of honeymoon buttons.  (Buttons just like them, sure, but you understand the irreplaceable sentimentality.)

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So it's an absolute joy to have these things back in my life.  Funny to think of them hiding out in that top pocket all this time, too, ever since our last trip to Schneeberg, outside Vienna.  I still remember the fluffy sweet buns stuffed with plum jam!

And the hike we took yesterday was pretty spectacular, too, even if we were swatting mosquitoes all the time.

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Baby Gift Knitting

With the launch of Knitamus (go check it out!) now behind me, it's time to catch up on the blogging a little!

I'm also expecting my third child in a few weeks and this poor unnamed baby has no finished knits of his own yet, although there are plenty of hand-me-downs waiting for him (and it will be July, so woolens aren't immediately required...)  The real irony is, I've been knitting for babies, just not my baby!

First up, I made a set of three Milo vests (pattern by Georgie Hallam) for a friend expecting her second boy — a newborn size and a three month size (but you can see from how I wrote the tags that I wasn't quite sure of the final result!) for the baby and a three year old size for the big brother to match.  This was also an exercise in stash-busting, using maybe two balls of the extra 6 I had left from a poorly calculated adult sweater two years ago (I'm pretty sure it's Galway worsted?).  I have a serious problem with overbuying yarn when I'm not sure how much I'll need.  And I'm never sure how much I'll need.

I modified the pattern for gauge (the yarn was bigger than called for) using my Knittrick app, which sure does come in handy for knitting from stash.  I'm pretty hopeless at getting exact gauge anyway, but random stash yarn makes it near impossible!  The pattern is easy, fun, and quick.

And I just mailed a lovely squishy soft red bonnet to a friend for her first baby.  The pattern is Little Heaume by Solenn Couix-Loarer and I was trying to get yarn that I wouldn't have to change the gauge for, but failed!  (I think this is a Cascade bulky superwash.  I have all the ball bands, I just have a hard time finding them when I need them...)  Back to Knittrick.  Problem:  my gauge wasn't super far off and the proportion of my row gauge to my stitch gauge was off, which, if you've read the Knitphisticate Guide to Gauge (available as a free download if you sign up for my mailing list), you'll know is a bad idea!  So, it's a big hat (like, two-year-old sized).  And one that isn't quite faithful to the shaping in the pattern, though it's still pretty cute.  I do really love the pattern.  It's fun and easy to knit and looks very cute on a baby's head!  I have more yarn and will probably make another in a smaller size for my baby to wear this winter, now that I understand the pattern better.

Finally, it's not knitting, but the Teeny Baby doll I made this weekend for my daughter is too adorable not to share!  I got the kit from A Child's Dream Come True and it came together nicely and quickly, although making the head is always kind of a pain with these dolls!  I just noticed they sell pre-made heads, which I would definitely consider, even more so for a bigger doll...

She loves the new doll, especially that it has a sling.  She came down to breakfast wearing it and wore it to preschool, too.  Even my 1st grade son wore it for a bit yesterday and has asked for his own, saying he definitely didn't want one when he first saw me making it!  (We dug out the bigger baby doll I made him when we were expecting his sister, but he wants one of these "cute" ones, with a sling.  His baby doll was well-loved for years, and looks it.  Curiously, his name was "Baby Doll" and my daughter has named this one "Baby Doll", too.  Their other favorite stuffies have usually had names like "Sheep" and "Frog".  I guess I have very literal children?)

Expecto Patronum

I've been knitting away (and coding away, more on that in a moment!), but hardly ever getting around to posting the projects here or on Ravelry.  Does anyone else have that problem?  Honestly, to look at my project page on Ravelry, you'd think I hardly ever knit!  I'm looking to change that this year.

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This is the front chest portion of a vest I'm making for my son.  I haven't knit him a sweater in two years and I've been wanting to make him something to reflect his (and my, let's be real) love of everything Harry Potter.  I'd pretty much settled on a patronus theme, but was having a lot of trouble envisioning how it would look magical instead of just, you know, like a ski sweater with a deer on it.  But then, somehow, I started prowling the Internet for information on illusion (also sometimes called "shadow") knitting.

See the stag?

See the stag?

At first glance and directly from the front, the work looks like garter stitch stripes.  (Or, maybe more technically, purl ridges in one color on a stockinette ground in another color.)  But at just the right angle... magic!

It's all a matter of purl stitches bumping up above the surface of your knitting while knit stitches lie flat.  So the colors are knit in two-row stripes and the second (wrong side) row of each stripe determines the pattern.  Any stitches knit in that row will be purl on the right side and therefore stick up, which makes them visible as long as you remember to keep those same stitches in stockinette in the next row (other color), which lays them down to get out of your way so you can see the bumped up stitches behind.  It was a little mind-bending at first, but is actually quite simple once you understand what's going on.  And fun.

I didn't see any garments in my internet surfing, probably because it's hard to see the intended image if the fabric is rumpled or curved, as it would be when being worn.  But I'm hoping this will actually add to the effect in this particular case, giving a sort of shimmery, eye-tricking impression just like you'd expect from a patronus.

I'm planning to pick up stitches at top and bottom to finish the vest front in the dark charcoal and then I just have to decide if I'm going to knit the back in one piece or continue the illusion knitting band, maybe working the words Expecto Patronum into it?  I'll probably do that since I have plenty of the light grey yarn left.  And I'm hoping to add a hood, which is where I was originally planning to put the incantation, in a turned-in hem edge around the face.  Which I may still do.  No harm in extra protective spells, eh?

I love making things up as I go along!


And as for that mention of a lot of coding... I'm getting close to launching a real beta version of the next Knitphisticate app (that means a testing version for a small group of people, maybe you?).  This app is designed to make knitters happy, especially knitters who use Ravelry (but maybe have trouble keeping their project pages up to date, ahem!), or like to keep their patterns electronic, or like to knit with charts, or like to make things up or modify patterns on the fly and find it difficult to keep their notes organized (and not lost).  Sound good?  You might like to sign up for the Knitphisticate mailing list to get the full scoop.  :)  You can sign up on the home page.

Fixed

I made this little cardigan for my daughter while we were on the epic cross-country drive this summer. I love the edging (although I should have reduced stitches in the edging so it didn't bell around the cuffs and hem).

One thing I didn't love was the fit. It was sloppy at the neckline, always looking too loose and threatening to fall off her shoulders. She could hardly wear it unbuttoned, which is, of course, how she wanted to wear it most of the time!

So then I was at knitting group and someone was mentioning about those silly hoodie patterns that don't bind off at the neck and then don't have any structure at the neckline and you end up "looking like a cone head". And it dawned on me that the edge treatment I'd done added no structure to the neckline at all (it's folded and the live stitches sewn gently down).

A few weeks later, I took out my blunt needle and a length of the yarn and put a line of tight (really tight!) backstitching into the inside of the neck. (Normal recommendation is to do a line of single crochet, but I thought that would be too bulky.) For good measure, I kind of squinched down the ends of the edging at the front opening, because they stuck too far above the last button for my liking.

Finally, I switched out the buttons (for the third set on this sweater so far!) with some adorable owls that someone put in my Christmas stocking.

So much better now. A sweater I really like, instead of a sweater I'm slightly disappointed in. Sometimes it takes a few tries! (A better photo would be nice, but you can't have everything.)

Transient

The Christmas Knitting

I have to say, there's a lot going on in our household lately and I really wanted to enjoy the lead up to Christmas instead of feeling crazed, so I started off with very modest knitting plans.  Only two gifts, actually, were on my list and they weren't big things.  But you know how it goes, right?  I made good progress on those and got excited and started making more plans until my imagined pile of Christmas knitting kind of tumbled over on top of imagined me and I had to scale back again!  In the end, here is what I made:

Matching felted purses for my niece and her American Girl doll.  Everything from stash except the pink yarn (and maybe the larger button, I can't quite remember...).  Pattern made up as I went along (very simple).  The buttons are purely for show - there is one on each side and they hide the stitches that hold on a snap to keep the bags closed.  The adorable simple bird is sewn from wool felt (I always get mine from A Child's Dream Come True) using a free pattern from Alanna George at The Craft Nest.  The bird went to my grandmother, not my niece.  :)

Matching felted purses for my niece and her American Girl doll.  Everything from stash except the pink yarn (and maybe the larger button, I can't quite remember...).  Pattern made up as I went along (very simple).  The buttons are purely for show - there is one on each side and they hide the stitches that hold on a snap to keep the bags closed.  The adorable simple bird is sewn from wool felt (I always get mine from A Child's Dream Come True) using a free pattern from Alanna George at The Craft Nest.  The bird went to my grandmother, not my niece.  :)

This is one skein of Ushya by Mirasol, cast on provisionally, knitted in garter stitch until it ran out, and grafted together after putting a single twist in the piece.  Could not be simpler and my sister loves it keeping her neck warm!

This is one skein of Ushya by Mirasol, cast on provisionally, knitted in garter stitch until it ran out, and grafted together after putting a single twist in the piece.  Could not be simpler and my sister loves it keeping her neck warm!

This is a very squishy hat for my brother-in-law.  Knit from a bulky stash yarn with wool and cashmere content (I'm pretty sure it was Lana Grossa Alta Moda Cashmere) in the same chained construction that the Ushya uses, which seems to help some against pilling.  I was quite happy with the result on this one and I hear it was well-received.

This is a very squishy hat for my brother-in-law.  Knit from a bulky stash yarn with wool and cashmere content (I'm pretty sure it was Lana Grossa Alta Moda Cashmere) in the same chained construction that the Ushya uses, which seems to help some against pilling.  I was quite happy with the result on this one and I hear it was well-received.

Finally, two pairs of slippers on their first fireside relaxation run.  These are Duffers Revisited by Mindie Tallack, the original pattern in grey for (another) brother-in-law and with a bit of a tongue added (with inspiration from some other Ravelers' projects) in the browns for my father-in-law.

Finally, two pairs of slippers on their first fireside relaxation run.  These are Duffers Revisited by Mindie Tallack, the original pattern in grey for (another) brother-in-law and with a bit of a tongue added (with inspiration from some other Ravelers' projects) in the browns for my father-in-law.

I like to give felted slippers in person and not yet felted.  You get the look of confusion when the package is opened, the skepticism when you promise that twenty minutes in the washing machine will make them fit perfectly, and most importantly, you get the perfect fit.  Plus, felting is like cuddly, useful shrinky-dinks.  The kind of simple magic adults don't get to have in their lives that often.  :)  You can see the delight start to break through as you keep making trips from the washer with the slowly-but-surely shrinking slippers and fitting them to the recipient's plastic-bag-covered feet.

Always give felted slippers in person and not yet felted!

If you're in a rush (and who isn't?), set your oven to 200 (F) and put your newly felted things on a towel in the oven for a few hours.  They'll be dry days earlier than the just-sit-them-out method.  Just be sure no one changes the dial while they're in there!

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I made a pretty little neckerchief thing for my mother-in-law (from stash), too, but seem to have forgotten to take a picture!

Of course, I couldn't do everything I imagined and a few loved ones got left out, but they got nice non-knitted things and will someday make it back to the front of the knitting rotation!   :)

Christmas Project Bag

Very quick post to show the project bag I sewed for the knitter gift exchange at the Guild last night.  :)  The recipient seemed happy!  It's sewn as a rectangle and then triangles sewn down to make a square bottom, which makes it look trapazoidal when it's ironed flat.

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And I used it to wrap a little ball of silly red yarn.

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Loverly

This weekend I had the amazing fortune to be at Port Ludlow for the Strung Along lace retreat.  Three solid days of classes and hanging out with other knitters.  Other very geeky knitters, as one pointed out!

Day one, my group was with Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, who can talk for hours about the history and sociological context of knitting (it will blow your mind) and at the same time impart so many technical details so subtly that you hardly even notice it happening.

Chart 3, though?  You will notice chart 3 happening, because it will make you want to cry. Or maybe not you, but it did me!  (And I was not alone.)  These delightful little rings, they require patterning on every row.  That is, reversing the chart in your head and doing everything just right on the purl side as well as the knit side.  Worth it?  I think so.  I love little rings.

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Day two, we were with Nancy Bush, who just so happens to be the author of the first knitting book I ever owned (Folk Socks, it was; it's just been updated).  I love coincidences like that!  She had us knitting as fast as we could, trying to finish a tiny sample Estonian scarf in the six hours of class time.  And yet, not a stressful class at all!  She showed us technique as it came up, as a whole class and in small groups or one-on-one, and made everything very clear.  Even nupps, which I had never attempted but several others had (and cursed them), were delightfully easy.  (Nupps are a classic Estonian feature, those little bumps in the diamond centers; they are more subtle and easier to execute than Aran bobbles.)  When she wasn't teaching technique, she was sharing all kinds of tidbits about Estonian history and culture and telling wonderful stories about the people she has met on her research journey into Estonian knitting and her many visits to Haapsalu, where they make these shawls.  It was a wonderful day.

Go ahead, judge my end-weaving procrastination.  I can take it.

Go ahead, judge my end-weaving procrastination.  I can take it.

Finally, a day of spinning with Judith MacKenzie.  True confession:  this was the day I was least looking forward to.  I got a wheel (an Ashford traditional in kit form which I finished and assembled) for Christmas the year before I went to college.  I spun on it some.  I made enough thick brown yarn to knit my roommate a hat, if I remember correctly.  But I never had a lesson and spinning didn't grip me.  In fact, I was considering letting my wheel go to a more loving home after the move this summer and before I signed up for the retreat.

Here's what I learned:  an in-person lesson makes all the difference.  I had the idea from books, but never did I imagine the extreme gentleness of everything that Judith imparts to her students.  After watching her at first, I couldn't wait to get to the wheel and effortlessly draw out thread like she was doing!  Check out her demo yarns in progressively finer diameters (those are all two-plies!):

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When she came around and adjusted my wheel, I couldn't believe how low she put the tension on the drive band and especially on the scotch break on the bobbin (that determines how hard the wheel pulls the yarn you're spinning).  My driveband was slipping ever so slightly on every treadle and it felt like I almost had to push the yarn into the orifice to get it onto the bobbin.  But this all made the process so gentle and so relaxing!  I was totally zoned out for hours, I'm sure.  Spinning, I have decided, is my new meditation.  It doesn't matter that I produce anything (though I will, it's unavoidable), it produces relaxation in my sometimes-overly-busy brain.

 In the end, I spun up the whole piece of purple dyed top (blend of yak, silk, and cashmere or merino, I can't remember, but heavenly!) and produced a yarn that thrilled me so much I pinned the mini-skein to my sweater for the rest of the evening!

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And then it was the end.  One more great meal, one more chance to chat with new friends, and the most fun activity of them all — everyone shares "the best thing I ever made".  There were amazing pieces of handwork (of all kinds) and touching stories to go along with many.  A really wonderful way to end.

I hope someday I get to go to one again!  I was lucky this time that I saw Stephanie's tweet that they were going to be announcing something and if you were sure you wanted in, send an email.  The retreat filled up that day with emails from quite sure people before the retreat was ever officially open for registration!  So, if you want to go, I guess you've got to be crouched like an online tiger from midsummer on!

One last photo:  the accumulated yarn-bombing of a hallway sculpture at the Inn at Port Ludlow (don't miss the leg warmers!):

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Fiber Farm Tour!

Among the awesome things about the Seattle area — there are fiber events seemingly all the time.  Why not pack the whole family in the car and spend the day doing the Jefferson County Fiber Farm Tour?

The first stop was Ananda Hills Farm, where we got to help needlefelt letters onto a  banner for the newly formed Pacific Northwest Fiber Web (so new it doesn't even have a website yet!).  My son loved it until he jabbed his thumb with the needle by accident.  I think he'd be willing to try it again, though.

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There was indigo in process at Bellwether Gardens, machine carding demonstrations at Taylored Fibers, llamas and alpacas (making the funniest "humming" noises!) at Rosebud Fiber Studio, gorgeous yarn and very nice people at Amity Fiber (really wish I'd taken a picture!), and fun places to play at Compass Rose Farms.

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We all had fun (although the kids were worn out by stop 6 and refused to get out of the car) and it was really interesting to see more of the country outside the city.  Wonderful fiber being made and worked out here!

Mid-Cardigan Blocking

Oh, the shock of bulky knitting after laceweight garter stitch!  My Mudblood (adapted for gauge of 19 sts/4") is done in the body.  I think I have a bit over half my yarn left, hoping that's enough for the big collar, button bands, and sleeves?

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Mudblood

I tell you, it has been next to impossible to get much done while unpacking boxes, hanging out with my two kids who don't start school for another one (and two) weeks, and trying to take advantage of the last bits of summer!   I am working on a gauge tutorial download that will help with understanding exactly how to convert a pattern to a new gauge.  When I get that in order, it will go out to mailing list subscribers!

In between the rest of life, the entrelac triangle continues to grow.  Being garter stitch, it takes very very little thought.  Being the finest gauge I've ever used, it and it's single ball of yarn (which looks barely smaller than it did to start with; I may be knitting this for the rest of my life) fits into a very small bag and so it can come with me everywhere, picking up barely noticeable rows here and there that eventually add up to progress!

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A huge treat of the summer, my mother-in-law gave me the new Unofficial Harry Potter Knits magazine from Interweave!   So many things I would love to make in there, and some lovely reading, too.  I'm starting with the Mudblood Cardigan by Tian Connaughton, as it turns out, and trying it in bulky weight (using Knittrick for the conversions and enjoying using my own app for a real project!) since the move has brought me unavoidably face-to-face with my accumulated stash.  Mark my words, I will not buy any new yarn until...  Until I've used a HUGE amount of what I already own.  Not every last scrap, maybe, but most of it!

I've got 12 balls of zealana eco by Yarn Sisters (80% Merino, 20% Possum)  and I've already started a project or two and tested a bunch of stitches with it that I ended up rejecting.  I'm feeling good about Mudblood, though!  Fingers crossed that there's enough yarn, but thinking I can shorten/eliminate/add stripes to the sleeves if I have to.

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