Apr 27, 2017

Wallowing in Wool

One of the few things I love about winter is the unbridled opportunity to wallow in wool. From scarves and shawls to cardigans, mitts and afghans, every woolly item sees action on a regular basis.

Spring has arrived and summer is on the horizon, so an ode to the wonderfulness of wool may seem odd, but like many of you, I work with it year round. From 100% wool to fiber blends, I value the springy resilience that keeps my stitches even and helps pieces rebound after blocking.

Years ago, I discovered wool's inherent versatility years ago, when I worked in an environment where business suits were daily attire. After much experimentation, many false starts and lots of wasted dollars, I discovered the solution: classic, tailored suits in fine wool fabrics. They traveled well, required minimal maintenance and lasted a long time.

When I used my noodle and chose wisely and well, a few suits and a handful of separates offered countless variations that made it easy to dress for work and pack for business travel. In concession to our hot and humid summers, I had a few summer weight pieces, but overall, my work wardrobe consisted of a year-round core of wool and wool-silk blends.

When I began knitting in earnest, I had to relearn this important lesson. Early on, I made an oversized gansey in a wool-acrylic blend, followed by a sweater jacket in 100% wool. Both pieces survive today, but the difference between the two is notable. Pilled and rather limp, the gansey is restricted to at-home use. The all-wool jacket, on the other hand, looks fresh and (nearly) new, so it's quite wearable. (One day soon, I'll try to get pictures of both.)

All of this is a long way of saying, with a few notable exceptions, wool is the common denominator in the yarns I love most. Warm weather may be on its way, but one way or another, I'll still be wallowing in wool.

PS: The photos show some of the wool and wool-blend yarns currently on the short list for summer knitting. Subject to change, of course!

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Apr 23, 2017

WIP | Not-So-Scrappy Scrapghan

The last time you saw my not-so-scrappy scrapghan, it looked like a hot mess. The strips had been seamed together and I was starting the border when the sun emerged, so I literally dumped the WIP on the worktable and grabbed a quick shot:

The vivid rainbow hues are cheerful and frequent color changes are motivating, so I'd hoped to be sharing a finished afghan today. Unfortunately, the past couple weeks have been so hectic and jam-packed, it just didn't happen. 

Luckily some progress has occurred, but you might be hard pressed to spot it. The border is nearly finished, and it's curling so madly, I'm a bit concerned. This is the same technique I've used many times before, because once it's properly blocked it tends to magically relax and lay flat, but at this stage it's difficult to believe that will actually occur. Who says knitting isn't exciting?

I'm now diligently weaving ends and striving with all my might to work slowly and carefully, because this isn't my strongest skill set and I want both sides to be attractive. If you look closely, you can see the tapestry needle in the upper left:

I can't speak for you, but once a project reaches this stage, I'm so eager to see the finished piece I get antsy. Clearly, patience isn't my strong suit, but if there's one thing I've learned over the years, it's an important quality to cultivate as a knitter. 

Like this afghan, it's something I'm still working on.

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Apr 20, 2017

Knitters' Insider Terms: Deciphering the Code

Recently, we took a quick look at some of the acronyms and abbreviations knitters use in blogs, comments, social media venues and everyday conversations. 

Today, let's tackle another part of the picture, and look at the meaning of some of the most common insider terms knitters use.


Audition. To experiment with different color combinations and/or textures to see which ones play well together.

Cold Sheep. To stop buying yarn and focus on using yarn from stash.

Destash. To sell, donate or give away yarn to reduce the size of the stash.

Dismount. To decide to purchase yarn after a period of cold-sheeping.

Frog. To rip out completed work, because "rippit, rippit" sounds like a frog.

Frog pond. To put a project aside, with the intention of frogging it in the future.

Hibernate. To put a project on hold indefinitely.

Knitworthy. The ultimate compliment, describing someone who appreciates your handiwork and for whom you'd cheerfully knit.

Marinate. To put a project aside for a time, while you figure out the next steps.

Mileage. Refers to how much yarn a specific project may require, how quickly a project progresses, or literally how many miles of yarn a knitter has knit.

Moderate Merino. To take a balanced approach, acquiring yarn as needed without overdoing it. 

Non-knitworthy. Describes someone who doesn't appreciate your handiwork and for whom you wouldn't knit.

Odd ball. Refers to unusual or challenging one-of-a-kind yarns.

Orphan. Refers to one-of-a-kind skeins lurking in the stash. 

Partial. Refers to leftover skeins that are partially used.

Reknit. To rework all or part of a project.

Simmer. To put a project on the back burner and let it evolve slowly.

Singleton. Refers to any lone skein. 

Stash. Large or small, it refers to your personal collection of yarn not in active use. 

Stashbuster. Projects or patterns designed to use large amounts of stash yarn.

Stashbusting. To focus on using yarn from stash.

Stash enhancement. A phrase used to describe recent yarn acquisitions, often used to describe new yarn for which you have no immediate project or plan.

Stitchworthy. Essential stitches to have in your repertoire.

Swatch. As a verb, it describes the act of knitting a fabric sample to test a stitch, establish gauge and determine how the yarn behaves. As a noun, it describes the finished fabric sample itself.

Time out. To put a frustrating project on hold until you have the patience to deal with it. 

Tink. Knit spelled backwards: hence, to undo completed work stitch by stitch.

Unknit. Same as tink: to undo knitted work stitch by stitch.

Unvention. Coined by renowned knitter, Elizabeth Zimmerman, it describes a new-to-you stitch or technique that has most likely been discovered (invented) by other knitters before you.

Yarn chicken. To continue knitting, even though it appears you'll run out of yarn before you finish the piece.

Yarneater. Describes projects or stitches that eat up lots of yarn.

Obviously, this list isn't all-encompassing, but hopefully it captures the most common terms used in knitterly conversations and online venues. Of course, we haven't even begun to tackle the abbreviations and acronyms used in patterns and stitch dictionaries, but we'll save that topic for another day. 

As always, if you spot a term that's missing, just let me know and we'll add it to the list.

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