2017 Retreat with Deborah Newton!

Deborah Newton

 

One of my all-time favorite knitters happens to be a hand knitter – Deborah Newton. I’ve known (and adored) her since we were both authors working on our first books for Taunton Press back in the 90’s and when I tell you she is bright and funny and incredibly talented, I am not exaggerating one bit. I know I am a little star-struck when it comes to Deb, but she really is the best and I am fortunate to count her among my friends.

A recent design from Vogue Knitting is perfect for a mid-gauge or bulky machine!(copyright Sixth & Spring)

You can hardly scan an issue of Vogue Knitting over these many years that doesn’t feature one of Deborah’s designs and, beginning with Designing Knitwear she has produced a trio of books that should be in any knitter’s library because what she has to say transcends needles or machines!

 

This is one of the garments from Finishing School.(copyright Sixth & Spring)

Finishing School: A Master Class for Knitters, her second book, is my favorite go-to book for finishing details and techniques (and a dozen great patterns). Her newest book, Good Measure: Knit a Perfect Fit Every Time is loaded with gorgeous illustrations to support the purls of wisdom she shares on how she designs sweaters – and tells you how to do it yourself! There are also 24 patterns included in the book.

While Deborah carefully explains various necklines and garment shapes, she also details design considerations for specific body types and fitting problems. I found it refreshing that some of the models are somewhat more normal sized women (i.e. not size 3!) which gives me a much better idea what the garments might look like on me and helps to illustrate some of her tips on fit.

I especially love the swatch photographs in Good Measure because they tell you so much about what the final sweater will look like. Deborah works out all the details on each swatch before she begins any project. If you are familiar with Deborah’s work, you know that perfect fit is the hallmark of her designs and it starts with the switching process. If you are a hand knitter, you are probably familiar with Deborah’s designs. But if you have only knitted by machine and tend to avoid hand knit patterns and books, you owe it to yourself to take a look at these books because she will open new worlds for you!

The inn on Block Island

OK. So – the books are fabulous and her work is the gorgeous and I am clearly #1 fan. Here is the best news – Deborah will be teaching a workshop for North Light Fibers in September on gorgeous Block Island, Rhode Island. Space is definitely limited so if you’re interested in giving yourself a special gift, use this link to get the details and to sign up for the retreat! Four days on an island with Deborah Newton sounds a little bit like heaven to me!

Beautiful Student Work!

The transfers this sweater were made with a 2-prong tool to accommodate a less stretchy yarn. I love the wide stockinet cuff on the sleeves.

As a teacher, nothing makes me happier than seeing students explore and use the ideas and techniques I share on this blog. Mijung Jay took one of my classes at Vogue Knitting 3 or 4 years ago. However, the beginners’ class was full so she signed up for one of the other classes, content to learn whatever she could – even though she had never worked on a machine before!

In the few years since then, she has blossomed into a fearless knitter, willing to try anything new. So, I shouldn’t have been surprised when she sent me these two photographs today. She was clearly inspired by the 3-D Nops and Eyelets that I explained in my blog post on 1/4/17  and went to town with it!

Work in progress! These transfers were made with a 3-prong tool as I described in my blog post on 1/4/17.

The blue sweater was worked as I described with 3 stitch transfers, but because the pink yarn had less stretch, she opted for a 2 stitch version instead. I especially like the way she used stockinet for the lower portion of the sleeves and the rolled stockinet neckline. Great work, Mijung!

Has anyone else tried this technique? Send along some photos to share with the rest of us!

Cool Stuff from Vogue Knitting Live!

First I bought a Yarn Valet….

I had a blast this past weekend, teaching at Vogue Knitting Live in NYC for the fourth (or is it the fifth?) year. The classes were great and I loved meeting some of the students who knew me from Craftsy.

Once again, I spent some time cruising through the market place, resisting temptation as best I could. As always, however, I found some things that I just couldn’t resist.

First, I bought one of the yarn dispensers from Yarn Valet when I saw how perfectly it holds a wound ball or skein of yarn – and turns as the yarn is pulled from the outside of the ball. For a mere $16, how could I resist!

Then I ran into Dan Tracy ……….

A little further on, I ran into Dan Tracy Designs and found a beautifully made wooden version of a similar holder……what is a girl to do?! I wandered around the show for a few more aisles and then I wound my way back to Dan’s booth to buy myself a birthday present. After all, wood feels and looks so nice and these ball (or cone) holders are mounted on ball bearings so they turn so beautifully and with tax, it only set me back about $54. Happy birthday to me!

Don’t  get me wrong – there was a LOT OF YARN to look at and I did buy some silk wrapped paper yarn from Habu that I will show you once I knit with it. I’m just a sucker for great tools and stuff.

I didn’t buy any slipper soles from Joe’s Toes because I wasn’t sure what size I needed for some grandson feet, but once I knit their next round of slippers, I know where to go for nice thick felted innersoles and non-skid outer soles.

Somehow, sharing this info with you helps me justify my purchases. Heck, a girl can’t just teach, race to the train and head home – she’s got to indulge once in a while. Right?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3D Eyelets and Nops

I’m really excited to share this sweater pattern with you! It is one of the garments I have been working on as I sample and knit my way through the content for my fourth machine knitting book: Hand-Manipulated Stitches: Eyelets, Ladders and Slits (Exploring Open Spaces). I’m aiming for a release this spring, but life always gets in the way so I won’t make any guarantees quite yet. You’ll be among the first to know once I set a date! I hope the scale of this pattern gives you an idea what I am up to with this new book – the open spaces I am working with are contemporary and bold – not prissy grandma lace! (No offense intended to grandma or anyone who has a grandma. Heck – I AM a grandma!)

The full, detailed pattern for this green merino wool sweater is on my web site with all the other free downloads so I won’t include the chart or other particulars here on the blog. However, because the transfers I used for this stitch pattern are a little unusual, I thought the video would be helpful.

In the video I use a handy needle Magic Needle Selector Wand for the SK 860 (mid gauge – 6.5mm) from Knitting Any Way. They are available for machines with 6.5, 7 and 8 mm needle spacing and only cost $34. There used to be a great adjustable needle selector available for Passap with 5 mm spacing but I’m afraid I don’t know of one for Japanese standard (4.5mm) or bulky (9mm) spacing. If anyone out there does, please let me know! I’ve seen people make needle pushers out of heavy cardboard for special projects and I’m tempted to think this is something that could easily be 3-D printed…….

My pattern is written for a luscious merino wool from Silk City that I started out using right off the cone on the standard gauge machine and, although the swatch was gorgeous, I realized it would take forever to finish a whole sweater. So – I used the yarn doubled on the SK-860.It would be great for the LK-150 as well. You can adapt this stitch design to any yarn on any machine as long as you do a gauge swatch first. There is just no escaping those gauge swatches!

The transfers I used for this design are triple transfers where 3 stitches are transferred from the left and 3 from the right onto the same three center needles – each of those needles end up holding 3 stitches. The tension on the transferred stitches is what forces the “nops” to pop out on the knit side of the fabric. The eyelets are 3-stitch eyelets so the whole scale of this lace is way beyond more common lace stitches!

Because the stitch chart shows the repeats centered from zero on the bed, you can just repeat the transfers all the way to the edges of the fabric, which makes it pretty straightforward to keep track of the placement and easy to use this pattern on any number of stitches. Just remember that you need to make either a whole or an exact half transfer and may have a number of plain stitches at the edges for lack of a enough stitches for a repeat. You’ll see what I mean once you start to swatch and try the technique.

In order to keep track of this pattern so that the eyelets formed their neat little zig-zag in the background, I made a chart that listed row numbers and indicated which transfers to make when. I checked the chart every time I picked up my 3-prong transfer tool because it took a whole lot less time to do that than it would to rip out an entire row of incorrect transfers!

I hope you like this pattern and that I have whetted your appetite for the new book!