Blossom Keepsake

Well, I feel a bit like I have been cheating on my blog as I have been busily writing reviews of recent events that have been happening at the Knitting Guild of Greater Buffalo rather than writing posts, here.  And, the deadline for entries for this monthly newsletter was moved up a week which put a cramp on my style as I wanted to finish a project I was working on, have it photographed, and have it included in the review I wrote about Nicky Epstein’s visit.  Well, I did finish, I did have the photo shoot and I did enter one photograph as per wish.  Remember when I wrote here about Nicky’s  visit to Buffalo, the class I took, the flowers we made, and how I wanted to knit a keepsake of her visit?  Here is my finished effort and let me tell you, so easy to create.  I say create because once you’ve knitted all the flowers, there are a zillion ways you could configure to put this together.

It just so happened that I grabbed my bag of Rowan Pure Wool DK scrap yarn from this project, knitted a few years back, for Nicky’s class that day and a size 5 needle.  During class I made, as per direction, one flower.  I really liked it and when Nicky shared the pattern from VK Fall 2007 Anniversary Issue (was the cover, also), I knew I was hooked to keep going.

Knitting the flowers themselves are very easy.  It is simply a 12 row repeat (with every other row being simply knit) and you repeat those 12 rows, 5 times for each flower.  The green garland which is the base of the scarf is knitted the same way however with many more repeats.  I used up scrap yarn by knitting until I ran out, then picked up another shade of green or brown for the base and pinks and purples for the flowers.  When it came time for the sewing, I first appliquéd the flowers to the base garland to the perimeter, having arranged them and then brought the flowers together and sewed petal to petal here and there to make the oblong shape.  Wine doesn’t hurt.

I like a bit of durability to my projects for ease of wearing and to prevent stretching, so I sewed seam tape along the neckline.

This will also be a firm place in which to sew in my label.

Here I am at farmer’s market and yes, we bought delicious, sweet white corn on the cob, part of last night’s dinner and a broccoli for quiche that I will make for tonight.

We chuckled at the large vase with no flowers and wondered if I should jump in!  The pics are a little dark but we were against that time constraint of deadline, at least that is my excuse.

I really did love the inspirational ideas of Nicky’s and have already planned the next project from one of her books.  And, I love my scarf which will remind me to “have fun with it”, be whimsical, daring, and most importantly, keep it light.  It’s knitting, after all!

Fiber Festival Inspiration

There really IS a world beyond the classroom, I am discovering, and this weekend, this new world took me to my first fiber festival, the 11th annual Fiber Arts Festival of NY.   Part of the adventure was representing the Knitting Guild of Greater Buffalo by volunteering to table-sit and meet folks who were inquiring about the guild and, of course the other part was to explore the many tents of fiber artists and have fun.

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Sporty Car Coat

When you hear an announcement of a baby who is going to be born, it is always exciting.  When you hear an announcement of a baby who is going to be born and you are a knitter and have time to work up a little something, it is even MORE exciting.  Especially when the newborn is going to be a member of the family!

So, upstairs I went to my ‘yarn shop’ remembering that one of my goals was NOT to purchase any new yarn this entire year.  I had in mind a little book of baby patterns called Sublime that I purchased years ago hoping then, that one day, I would be knitting for babies.

I had an initial idea of what I was going to make and what yarn I might choose.  Upon studying the pattern’s gauge, I realized quickly that the yarn I had in mind was not compatible with the pattern.  Looking through the many bundles I have in my stash, I found what I thought would work, a washable merino (bands gone for clearer content), however I concerned myself with the color.  Too dark?  Not baby-like?  I worked up a swatch, liked the durability of the fabric and the striping effect of the slipped stitches.  I even loved the name of the pattern, Sporty Car Coat and could imagine it as a practical, useful garment.   I put aside my worries about the color and forged onward.

The pattern was very well written with one minor schematic issue in the fact that there was no measurement for the circumference of the neck.



I am not an experienced knitter of baby clothes and was unable to pick up the number of stitches around the neck edge according to the pattern.  I wanted to know why I couldn’t.  A measurement indicated on the pattern would have been helpful to the cause.  I was achieving the correct measurement in every other direction.  This constant attention to measurement to schematic is very important (to me) as that is what tells how the garment is going to fit in the end.  So, in this case, I just kept going picking up the number of stitches that neatly fit into the space I had.

conservative baby

conservative baby

comfortable baby

comfortable baby

preppy baby

preppy baby

Hubby’s suggestion of yellow buttons, also from stash, took away any angst I had about the color of the yarn and here is the happy recipient (well, the mother), my lovely niece, receiving the gift during her baby shower.

Now, all we need to do is wait for Joaquín Antonio González McCoy!


Do not mistake my angst as described below with my love of this project.  I love the rich color of the French Red Egyptian cotton and the quality of the fabric that was created with this unique diagonal cable stitch.  It was indeed this wonderful feel, drape, and body of the fabric that singlehandedly motivated me to continue on when I began stumbling with the directions.


I have nicknamed this project RED aka. R.E.D.  This stands for Redo Every Direction.  Yes.  This was a perfect project if ever I contemplate design work.  You shall soon see.  Whether it was my misinterpretation or the directions were incorrect, it was as if the directions had been thrown up into the air and one had to figure out where to use which step.

I mean LOOK at this schematic!! (Good thing there was one!)

So, where to begin… The first thing to realize is that this design is meant to be asymmetrical.   I mean look at that crazy schematic!  Then, I had to orient myself as to where the slit was (on the left side).  Of course,  I could see it plainly in the photograph below (from the magazine), but it was much more difficult to ‘see’ in the schematic, oddly enough.  Then, you need to remind yourself about increases and decreases.  Really.

~ as seen in VK Spring/Summer 2000.

And, that is why and when the confusion began.  When the directions said to increase, the schematic displayed otherwise.  Same with the decreases.  After I realized the written directions were not matching the schematic, I had to decide which was correct.  So I made a life size paper pattern that I could actually hold  up to me.  By doing that I could see that the schematic was correct in that it would give me the shape of the piece I needed to get the final product, so I went ahead and knitted the fabric to match wondering how in the world the written directions came to be.

figuring out the angles

figuring out the angles



ok, so the back pattern can be used for the front...

ok, so the back pattern can be used for the front…

Well, let’s give her a go.

These are the directions I wrote and followed:


As written until:
Right edge shaping ~
Bind off (at beg of RS rows), 5 sts once, 4 sts once, and increase 1 st at same edge every 6th row 9 times and when armhole measures 8 1/2“, bind off from this edge 4 sts 25 times, 1 st once.
NOTE: I totally ignored the direction of bind off from this edge 2 st 7 times and 1 st 20 times and chose the bind off as written for the left edge. Also, changed decrease to increase.
Left edge shaping ~
When piece measures 8” from marker, work left edge shaping by binding off (at beg of WS rows) 3 sts 3 times then decrease 1 st 27 times at beg of every WS row (left edge, still) until no stitches are remaining.
NOTE: So, basically I changed increase to decrease and followed all other directions in this section.

As written until:
Right Side Shaping ~
Followed directions including v-neck shaping.
Left Side Shaping ~
From neck edge, bind off from this edge 2 st 7 times and 1 st 20 times. (I utilized the direction that I ignored, above.)
NOTE: This time, I ignored the dec 1 st every 6th row until no sts rem at neck edge and from armhole edge bind off 4 sts until no sts rem at armhole edge.

Aside from all of that, here are some other notes I took.

  1. The pattern is one size.
  2. The fabric is quite elastic so keep that in mind with your gauge and size.
  3. I did all the increase and decrease shaping by casting on and binding off to keep the diagonal cable pattern all the way to the edge of the knitted pieces.
  4. I used a double pointed needle rather than a cable needle when working the cables.  It is what I am used to as I have never used a cable needle.
  5. The diagonal effect is made via cables.
  6. I did not block as it wasn’t needed.


Another mishap I had was assuming the yardage in the skein of yarn I purchased was THE SAME as the yardage in the skein that the designer used some years, ago.  Well, no!  And, well into the knitting did I realize this!  Frantically, I searched the internet and by a very lucky chance, made contact with someone on Ravelry who was kind enough to sell me a skein.  Not the same dye lot, (yikes) so I knitted with the mismatch here and there to make it blend in.

A MINOR DESIGN CHANGE:  The pattern is from Vogue Knitting 2000.  To modernize the look, I did a lovely picot crochet edge around the neck and sleeves and eliminated the edging around the bottom.  When you add edging to a stretchy fabric, the fabric immediately becomes stiff and board-like.  I just love the way this hangs naturally around my shape and did not want to hamper that flow with an edging just because it was in the pattern.

So, here is my take on Jacqueline van Dillen‘s Spring/Summer Vogue Knitting 2000 pattern seen in today’s photo shoot in a local Japanese garden as well as for my retirement reception back in late June.







OH!  RED… for a red letter day!  Thanks, Beth for that idea!

lessons learned:

  • Check the yardage on YOUR label against the yardage in the pattern even if it is the same yarn!
  • Don’t give up when directions become confusing.  There are many ways to skin a cat!

The Stash (Part 3 of 3)

Continuing this backwards account of this ‘outside’ process: plan, make, finish, wear, this takes us to the stash. I wrote these posts in this order as truly, this is how I think to begin any new project. Backwards. 100% inspiration to knit any garment, for me, comes from the fashion statement it creates in the end.

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Organization of the WIPs (Part 2 of 3)

Recently, when answering questions about knitting, I reflected upon my teaching.  I found myself comparing what I call the outside process of knitting:  plan, make, finish, wear to the process of planning a unit.  “What is it I want my students to know and be able to do at the end of the unit?” I would ask myself as a teacher.  “What is it I want to wear to the special event?” I ask myself as a knitter.  I see similarity in thinking about the end first, then planning accordingly.

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4 + 2 + 1 + 1 + 1 = final satisfaction.  This project came to me as I was needing to embark on an easy and lightweight (as in heft) project after the challenging elephant cardigan and the gorgeous, but bulky-to-knit designer tapestry dress.  The 4 in my equation stands for this yarn Manos del Uruguay, Rittenhouse Merino 5-ply, that is the number of times I changed how I was going to use this gorgeous yarn.  It was originally purchased for another project but a change of mind and insistence that I use it headed me into a cabled project but I fell short on yardage.  Then, there was a third attempt but I wasn’t confident that this particular yarn was right so I then settled on this Spring cardigan.  The beautiful part about choosing this pattern is that if I were diligent, it could be finished and worn THIS season!   As I’ve suggested, or at least for my knitting sanity, I find it emotionally comforting that after a challenging project to follow it up by one that just sings.  Easy, no seams, knitted mostly in the round, mostly straight stitch, worsted weight yarn, and minimal fabric.  Perfect.  Not like those Vogue patterns whereby you have to knit double your body width or double your body length of fabric for that fashion impact.

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Varying Tools heightens Skill Level and Versatility

The other day, on Vogue Knitting’s facebook page, I saw this and thought it was a helpful table.  It is is a chart indicating number of stitches needed for comfort on a round needle.  For example: the first row indicates gauge in this case, 3 stitches to the inch (which suggests bulky yarn), following across it says you would  need at least 48 stitches to be comfortable knitting with a 16 inch length round needle, 72 stitches for a 24 inch round and so forth.  Now, when I say comfortable that means that when you are knitting, the stitches are not so tight that they are being pulled and it feels like you are fighting with them nor that there are so many stitches that they are bunched up and are on top of one another.  Drawback:  Many needle purchases. Comments on this chart were mixed.  Some were appreciative, copying it, and saying that this would be a useful resource and would help in their knowledge of what needle to use for what project,  while others were suggesting to magic loop, a method whereby you take a long round needle, even though you have very few stitches, and pull the extra length of the needle in between the stitches adjusting the needle’s loop as you go along.    The advantage of magic loop is you do not need all of the round needle lengths mentioned above.  Drawback:  It can be annoying to have to stop to rearrange the needle and stitches as you go along.

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Is this a Martin Storey or a Math Story?

Back in August I laid eyes on this beauty, Tembe designed by Martin Storey.  (ok, the model ain’t bad, either.)  The colors, style of the cardigan, the way it was fashioned, and the magnificent elephants all reminded me of my hubby.  He had been asking for a hand knit and had been reminding me of how long it had been since I had knitted anything for him.  Immediately, when I saw this sweater I knew it would be the answer and would perfectly fill the apparent void that was in his wardrobe (and take care of the nagging), not to mention would keep my interest through the process.  I didn’t realize what a mathematical equation it would turn into, however.

Noah's Ark

I am one who orders pretty much everything online, so yarn is no exception.  I think all yarn is gorgeous therefore I anticipate a lovely package and enjoy the anticipation as I wait.  Plentiful amounts of beautiful Rowan Colorspun and a nice sturdy Rowan tweed as you see, below greeted us happily.  A bit grayer than we had anticipated, we both drooled when the package was opened.

So began the process of the gauge, the first mathematical equation.   Below you see several elephants beginning to be worked up each a different gauge due to different needle sizes.  Experience has taught me that I am  a much looser knitter than seemingly all of the knitters of Europe, especially in row count as I can NEVER achieve the number of stitches per inch as in the pattern if the pattern originated by a designer from Europe.  So, I expected the results I was getting.


I didn’t like the elephants I was getting with the smaller needles as they were too small and I was getting way too wide a piece of fabric with the next size needle so I calculated that if I followed a smaller size with my bigger stitches, I would end up with a sweater the size I wanted.  So, I chose accordingly.

After the first row of elephants were completed, I measured their height.  Hmmm… a little under the height according to the pattern.  The height of the elephant was especially important for two reasons.  The first being that if I continued following the pattern according to the number of rows, my sweater would be too short for the sake of fit.  Luckily there were solid stripes in between the elephants whereby I could make the difference.  So, I simply added more rows there.  However, after completing a stripe of solid, I realized my stitch gauge was NOT the same as my stitch gauge in the intarsia work (elephant stripe).  So, I stopped and worked up a bunch of gauges for solid and chose a needle size, accordingly which was a different size needle than for the elephants.  This meant that the elephant stripes were knitted with one size needle and the solid stripe was knitted with another size needle.

The second very important reason for the focus on the length is to fit the elephant rows evenly on the sweater.  There seemed a very purposeful pattern of two solid stripes and two elephant stripes with elephants going in the opposite directions that I wanted to capture.  I felt it was the designer’s intent to design it that way and it was what I saw that was so visually pleasing to the garment.  I must have measured and re-measured the length as I was knitting a zillion times to insure that I would get the right size I needed and the this look I wanted.

I learned something from Brandon Mably when I recently heard him speak.  He talked about the importance of looking at one’s work from a distance.  I understood what he meant completely as I had done this when working on this.  I had taken a photo of the back half way worked and when I viewed it, the elephants looked too small for my happiness.  That was when I ripped it all out and chose to work on the smaller size with the larger needles to make the elephants larger (as described, above.)  This photo shows the elephants that I felt were too small.


Once all of these calculations were figured out and kept constant throughout the project, I knew that at the end, the elephants would line up at the side seams and when hubby’s arms were down, would line up with the body.  That also was very important to me that this would be the case.  In the photo, below you can see how the elephants line up beautifully.


There are about 40 or so elephants.  I could not remember the stitch count of the pattern by memory.  Each elephant was 29 rows, each row different.  Just when I thought I had the pattern memorized, the next stripe of elephants were of a different stitch count as the elephants went in a different direction.  So, to expedite the process, I made these charts converting the charts to numbers.  For me, I could quickly glance at the numbers, work up that many stitches knowing I would get an elephant in the end rather than stop and count a graphic.  The circled numbers are the elephants.



Then, there are the mathematical equations regarding the band.  I don’t know the correct way of ensuring the band is equal in length on both sides, the placement of the button holes begin and end where you want and the stretch to the band itself is not too much or not enough for the body of the sweater.  Is there a correct way?  Is there only one way?  Then, there is the even space between the buttons, not too much pull for belly or enough pull (ha), and the right length button hole for the button!     My methodology was literally by counting the number of rows of the band and working the mathematics from there:  same number of rows for each side of the band, dividing for the equal spaces between button holes, counting the same number of stitches for each buttonhole, of course.  And, of course I used  the one row button hole method and sewed the buttons on the band with the yarn.

Here, you see the results.  It is lovely in every way.  And, the man ain’t bad, either!







IMG_3738 Reversing roles with me as photographer,  hubby as model we knew we would head to the Buffalo Zoo. It would give us that safari ambience as well as support our local zoo.

Drapey (2 of 2)

What is it about Tom Scott that captures my attention?  Whoever would think to take the traditional cardigan, flip it around, and call it fashionable?  Tom Scott!  AND, whoever would think to design a garment that is knitted from the bottom to the top, but is supposed to be worn sideways?  You would think that designing a sweater would be challenging enough, but Tom Scott clearly takes it to the next level.  Here, you can see what I mean.

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Rust Cardi

Now, the question becomes who thought of this motto first, VK or me?  The motto I am now seeing heading the instruction pages in recent issues of Vogue Knitting:  plan, make, finish, wear has been my mantra for the last 35 years or so whether it be in knitting or sewing (my personal predecessor to hand knitting).  I have always aimed to wear what I make and I do!

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