kiwiknitter's blog

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...and the woolly horse your rode in on!

At last my “woolly horse” aka “jumper board” but not to be confused with a “woolly jumper” (Aussie boomer joke) arrived from the Shetland Islands. I believe it is originally a Shetlands invention and is discussed in books about Fair Isle knitting; a pattern to make your own is in “The Fair Isle Knitting Handbook” by Alice Starmore. I’m not skilled enough to build my own so I bought this. It is really quite an interesting piece and I used it recently to block the Scalloway Yoke jumper. It worked brilliantly. I was able to adjust for my size and block the garment to fit. Because the air can reach all sides, the garment dries very quickly. I purchased it from Jamieson & Smith and it wasn’t cheap but given the amount of knitting that I do, I felt the money spent was justified. A benefit for me is being able to block a garment knitted in one piece. When working with Shetland knitting wools, the garment must be washed for the wools to soften and of course it assists to set stitches and the FI design. I was a bit worried that it wouldn’t work with an Icelandic yoke jumper but I had no problems. I know that a number of knitting yarns don’t need blocking but Shetland wools definitely need it. In fact, I’ve read in numerous sources that Shetland knitters don’t consider a garment finished until it’s washed and blocked.

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Scalloway Yoke Jumper

1. This is a pattern from the book “The Art of Fair Isle Knitting” by Ann Feitelson. I love this book and I like this design. This is my first real stranded knitting project worth mentioning.

2. The knitting wool is from Jamieson & Smith in the Shetland Islands (Scotland) and they are lovely to deal with. Very nice emails and phone conversations and speedy service. Given the fantastic colour palette of their knitting wools, I reckon they have become my supplier of choice!

3. The Shetland knitting wool was so different from the knitting wools I’ve been using. It feels “hard” to the touch, just like the home-spun that I had purchased a while back. But, unlike that horrible home-spun, this wool knits beautifully. And, once washed in only water, it becomes very soft to the touch.

4. It’s my experience that Shetland wools need to be wound into balls. When pulling from the centre, I ended up with lots of yarn spew which usually was tangled as this wool tends to knot up easily. It was too risky to trust the skeins to pull cleanly.

5. It is a 2-ply that knits as a 4-ply. I know that there are several MWK members who will knit jumpers in nothing larger than a 5-ply. I can now see the advantages of knitting a stranded multi-colour pattern with a smaller wool. The pattern stands out so much better and there is a definition and intricacy of the knitted design that the larger size wools can’t achieve (in my opinion).

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Knitpicks vs Addi

I've been hearing lots lately about the Knitpicks circular needles kit. It looks pretty nice and I'm wondering what others have to say about it, especially in comparison to the Addi Turbos. I have a huge investment in the Addi Turbos but my objection is that the memory of the coiled cable is too strong and even with the hot water method of relaxing them, they still revert to the coiling. I like the Knitpicks idea of having a goodly selection in a smallish case. The difficulty with their product is that the smallest needle size is the 3.5 mm and lately I am using even smaller sizes. I also understand that the tips are quite sharp and I wonder about that. The bamboo set looks nice but I never use bamboo any more. Anyone care to give their opinions?

http://www.tapestrycraft.com.au/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=21_1017&products_id=13604

http://www.knitpicks.com/needles/knitting_needles.aspx

http://www.knitpicks.com/circular+knitting+needles_NL300302.html

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Middle Earth Knitting Weekend Coming Up!

Calling all Kiwi and Aussie knitting blokes! I just heard on David Reidy's "Sticks & String" podcast about the New Zealand Knitters' Weekend on 15-17 June in Wellington on the North Island. It is sponsored by KnitWorld (a chain of yarn shops) and it sounds like a lot of fun. There will be celebrity speakers, workshops, competitions, stash-trading, charity knitting, Stitch 'n' Bitch along with a special 3 hour session just for blokes called "Knitting With Testosterone", led by James Herbison of the FiberAlive blog fame. The costs are very reasonable and I, for one, intend to be there. Here is the link:

http://www.knittersweekend.co.nz/KnittersWeekend.htm

Since it's so inexpensive for Aussies to fly to New Zealand, maybe some of you guys from Oz will come over and join us? I'm keen to meet other men who knit and wouldn't it be cool to actually meet some of the MWK regulars!

If I can ever possibly figure out how to post an event for June on MWK, I'll do that. I can't suss how to move forward in the calendar. Anyone know how?

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And those knitting wheels keep rolling along...

Here are two handy little tools for those knitters who want to do their own knitting garment recipes. They’re called the “Sweater Wheel” and I got these on ebay recently. One wheel is for raglan sleeve jumpers, the other for inset sleeves.

The original packaging for the raglan sleeve jumpers gives the following:

“Knitting instructions for 360 raglan sweaters – just turn the dial and select your size. When dial is set instructions for entire sweater are shown. 3 styles: cardigan, round neck pullover, V-neck pullover. 3 wool weights: fingering yarn, sport yarn, worsted. Sweaters for the entire family (sizes range from baby to men’s 48.“

It is by Bea Freeman Enterprises of Bryn Mawr, PA. The wheel is a good size, 11.5” across and is 2-sided. Each wheel is divided into three parts: Back, Front, Sleeves. The instructions are clear and easy to understand. One just dials-in the size for whichever sort of person (man, woman or child) the jumper is for and presto – all the directions are there! Although these are for flat knitting, I still can use them as a reference when I’m trying to decide the decreases for a set-in sleeve or a neckline.

I enjoy vintage knitting items, especially those I can use. There are certainly many ways to create a knitting garment recipe but this is a fun item – just wanted to share it. BTW: some nice MWK member told us about knittingfool.com and that's where I first learned about these. Thank you!

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"Selbuvotter" - The book

Yesterday in the post I received my latest knitting book. It's called "Selbuvotter - Biolgraphy of a Knitting Tradition" by Terri Shea in Seattle, WA. The book is a result of her work at the Seattle Nordic Heritage Museum, cataloging Nordic knitted garments. In that project, she charted the designs of the mittens and gloves she was cataloging. The book has 30 patterns for the Norwegian black and white stranded knitting patterns for mittens and gloves. There is a nice section on the history of this style of knitting as well as some practical how-to advice. The graphs are large and easy to read and there are photos of each style knitted up. I ordered the book directly from the author and she is lovely to deal with. Check out the website:

http://www.selbuvotter.com/

My thanks to JPaul for telling me about this book!

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Grafting Question - Help!

I'm currently knitting the "Scalloway Yoke" jumper from the book "The Art of Fair Isle Knitting" by Ann Feitelson. Those who may have this book can check out the pattern. When attaching the sleeves to the body, the pattern calls for grafting live stitches and then continuing to graft live stitches to a selvedge line. I can Kitchener without problems, but I don't know how to graft to selvedge. Does anyone have any experience or knowledge with this? Any links to on-line tutorials? This recipe is a bit more complex than I'd expected. The stranded pattern is not difficult but the method of doing the yoke is news to me. Ah, the challenges of life!

Any assistance will be greatly appreciated! Cheers!

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Funny Dutch Cartoon

Go to: http://willswools.blogspot.com/ and scroll down to March 9, 2007 to see the cartoon of 2 men knitting in a bar.

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First Stranded Knitting Jumper

I’ve spent the first part of this year knitting scarves and beanies (dog forbid I should ever again find myself doing these again), all the while thinking about doing some multi-colour knitting. After reading, reading, & reading about it, I finally got up the courage to give it a go. I first experimented on a smaller version (see pics of the 16” doll and jumpers), figuring that if it all went pear-shaped there was a minimal loss of time and materials. Bloody hell, things seemed to go pretty well and I took the plunge and made a jumper pattern I’d been admiring for some time. It is called “Fonn” (that’s with an umlaut!), whatever that name means; maybe Lars can translate?, from the “Reynolds Lopi” Volume 25. Although seamless/circular sans steeks, I was keen to try this recipe because the yoke is done with the decreases spread around rather than done as a raglan decreases (is there a name for this method?) Let me say here that stranded knitting was like learning to knit all over again! I fumbled with the needles, fabric and 2 strands of yarn. And what about tension/gauge? I did the stranding with both hands and discovered that I have difficulty keeping the left hand strand looser than the right. Actually, this wasn’t much of a discovery since I knit faster with the left and I knew that when I knit rapidly, I knit more tightly. So, there was a significant amount of tinking and even so, I do have some puckers that didn’t come out in the washing and drying (blocking) process. I was actually grateful that I didn’t have smocked yoke at the end! Now, to confess just in case some of you have this pattern book and notice my big screw-up: I did the pattern opposite so that it is a photographic negative image – in other words, the stars should have been white and there shouldn’t have been white bands. I’d like to say that it was done purposefully and with artistic license but it was really just a screw-up – aren’t the white boxes on the graph supposed to be white wool? Guess not.

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Seaters From Camp - Book

"Sweaters From Camp - 38 Color-Patterend Designs from Meg Swanson's Knitting Campers", 2002.

As you know, Meg Swanson is the daughter of famous knitting guru Elizabeth Zimmermann who founded the Wisconsin Knitting Camp in 1974. This book showcases the winners of a contest offered to all former and current campers to design on all-over patterned garment in Shetland wool.

Here are my opinions of this book:

1. I liked the techniques chapter. Some of the items were new to me so I learned from reading it. It was the first time I was able to get my head around the mathmatical formula for increasing stitches evenly in a row. I found some interesting new cast-on techniques and the purl-when-you-can technique is very intriguing. The book was worth the money just for this reference chapter.

2. I definitely want to try knitting in Shetland wool very, very soon! The colours are beautiful and I like the idea of the steeks felting themselves without sewn reinforcements.

3. Thankfully, there were no chapters on the history of Shetland knitting or the basic how-to of knitting!

4. I was most gratified to see in print some of the seamless/circular techniques (such as armhole reductions with a steek) that I'd laid awake at night trying to suss out. I'm happy to know that I'm connected to the greater pool of knitting wisdom!

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