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!

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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Many of us here in the US have just put away all the dishes and the extra leaves for the dining room table now that Thanksgiving is behind us. I think I have had more than enough turkey to last me for a while! Thanksgiving is always a time for families – and ushers in the beginning of winter and the holiday season. I’m looking forward to less time in the garden, a lighter teaching load and more time here in the studio working on the book that will ultimately be titled something like: Hand-Manipulated Stitches: Eyelets, Ladders and Slits, (with a subtitle) Exploring Open Spaces.

I always have a tendency to get a little overly-absorbed in the projects at hand and I have found myself really enjoying the fabrics and techniques I am working on for this book. Right now I have taken a break from all the sampling and swatches to work on a gorgeous all-over 3-stitch eyelet pattern and once that sweater is done, I will post the pattern on the web site and let you know here on the blog.

linen5
Giant 3-stitch eyelets swirl across this linen pullover. Godets at fullness and drape at the side seams.

In the meantime, I just posted the pattern for the Swirling Eyelets Sweater I did a year ago. The pattern first appeared in Machine Knitting Monthly Magazine, but some of you may not subscribe (shame!) so I decided it was time to make the pattern available on my web site. Just go to the page called “Free Stuff” and you will see it at the top of the list. The model is my lovely friend, Anne.

The pattern features huge 3-stitch eyelets and godets that add fullness and drape at the sides. The sleeves are knitted down after picking up the armhole edge. Open spaces are all the rage in ready-to-wear right now and this sweater is easy enough for a beginner.

linen-detailMy sweater was knitted with some gorgeous worsted weight linen that I bought from Silk City. It has fabulous weight and drape. However, the yarn may no longer be available and, if it is, it was tough to knit with. Linen has no give at all and even on the bulky machine it was heavy, arm-muscle -building work! The concept and design will work in any weight yarn on any machine so be good to yourself and pick a nice stretchy wool or blend. I hope you like it!

 

A Great Tip!

I’ve always felt that my students have as much to teach me as I do them! These two tips came in recently from blog subscribers who were happy to share them with you!

This first tip is from Patricia Lewis and I think it is an ingenious idea!

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Hi Susan,

As I was working on a scarf project today, it occured to me that I should share my method of keeping track of which stitches need to be transfered.  I use “Avery Removable Coding Labels”in the 1/4” size, which are just the perfect size of dots to stick on the LK 150 needlebed.  I place the dots just above or below the numbers on the number strip.
The color coded dots indicate to me which stitches need to be hand manipulated.  I also place a matching color coded dot on the pattern text to remind me of what that dot means!
In the photo attached, you will see several different colored dots, this is allowing me to switch between working on several different projects without losing time to figure out all of the charting all over again.
These little dots are a “God send” as they are so easy to stick on the machine, do not interfere with the carriage & are easy to remove with no residue left behind.  I can pick them up at Walmart here in Canada and I assume you can get them in the USA Walmart as well.
 Pat Lewis
The second tip is from Carol Olson and will make it even easier for you to work the K2P2 bind off I posted a while back. She knits two rows of ravel cord before scrapping off the work, but knits each one in a different color so she avoids any confusion of which stitches to work! Makes it easy to distinguish the knits from the purls in the rib. Wish I had thought of that!
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New Craftsy Class!!!!

11259_machine_knitting-hand-manipulated_stitches_susan_guagliumi29578_11227_11259So excited!

My third Craftsy class, Machine Knitting: Hand-Manipulated Stitches, has launched and I really hope you will all be as pleased with it as I am! Although the title of the class is similar to the title of my first book and the companion video, be assured that this is an entirely new class!

Use this link to bring you to the class on the Craftsy site and, when you check out, use this code (over on the right side) for 50% off: b93ebedf-370b-498d-9cf0-4.(Limit one per customer. Cannot be combined with any other offers). This code will expire in mid-January so check my web site for a new code after that date.

Once again, we used the LK-150 for this class because it is really the lowest common denominator for the greatest number of machines. There are just so many new knitters out there with no place to go for help that we have decided to focus on them. The experts and old hands are usually not quite as hungry for instruction, but I hope that even some of them find the material in this new class interesting and challenging!

The class is divided into six lessons that cover cables, short row intarsia, Bridging, re-hung stitches, traveling and twisted stitches and some open spaces (the topic of the book I am still working away on!). The class materials include all of the charts and instructions for the samples I work on screen and, once again, the camera work is incredible!

During the filming of the class, my producer decided to play “20 Questions” with me so that my students could begin to get to know me a bit. I hope you enjoy this clip!

 

Craftsy Class #2 is Up and Running!

I’m delighted to tell you that my second Craftsy.com class has launched! I’ve known the date for weeks, but was sworn to secrecy until the launch was official. You can watch the trailer for the class here and the link below will bring you right to the class page on Craftsy where you can purchase the class with a 50% discount – my thanks to you for following my blog and/or web site.

50% Class Discount

I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the folks at Craftsy. They are professionals who are committed to producing the very best on-line learning experiences. It’s a lot of work – to be sure! – but the end results are so well worth it. You’ll feel like you are sitting right next to me at the machine because there won’t be anybody else blocking your view or asking all the questions. You might be wearing your pajamas and it might even be 3:00 AM, but I won’t mind a bit! That is the beauty of on-line learning! If you have questions, just click and type and I’ll get right back to you…..though probably not until my day begins.

While the first class was aimed at new (or returning) machine knitters (almost 4,000 of them so far!), the new class is focused on three very specific areas: using the garter bar, knitting intarsia and working entrelac with holding position. They are all skills that will help move you forward with your machine and instill new confidence in what it – and YOU – can do!

Over the weekend I drew the names of five lucky blog subscribers who have each won a free class. (One from the U.K., 1 from Scandinavia, 1 Canadian and 2 from the U.S. Quite the diverse group of machine knitters!)

I plan to do more drawings this year as a thank you to those of you who have subscribed to my blog. In fact, on May 30th I will be drawing three more names. Those winners will each receive a free copy of my book, Handmade for the Garden. So, if you haven’t actually subscribed to this blog, make sure you subscribe (over on the right where it says “subscribe”) before the next drawing so you will be eligible to win!I won’t share your information with anyone else, but you will get an email telling you whenever I post a new video or blog.

Hope you all enjoy the new class!

Exciting News!

Its a wrap!
Its a wrap!

I’ve been leaking hints for the last few weeks, but it is official: Machine Knitting Special Techniques: Color and Texture will be released by the end of May on Craftsy.com.

This is my second class for Craftsy and I have to say that I have loved working with them. The preparation that goes into a Craftsy class is amazing – with highly qualified people assigned to every step along the way. I feel very fortunate to have these opportunities come my way!

How is THIS for close-up detail?!
How is THIS for close-up detail?!

This class is divided into three sections. First, we take a look at the garter bar. To say that the close ups are amazing is an understatement! I think you will agree, once you see it, that it brings each step clearly into focus and makes the process of turning work over (for one) a whole lot more understandable.

Peruvian Dancer Intarsia Sweater pattern (in four sizes) is included in the lass materials.
Peruvian Dancer Intarsia Sweater pattern (in four sizes) is included in the lass materials.

The next section focuses on intarsia knitting and the last section on entrelac knitting. The projects included in the class materials include a cap with a shaped crown, an intarsia sweater with an unusual edging and an intarsia tunic.

I chose the Peruvian dancer motif for the intarsia sweater because I have always loved Peruvian textiles. In fact, the charts I included for practice pieces are also Peruvian inspired – a cat and a jaguar – that you could use on any garment.

I worked the intarsia designs with Lion Brand Superwash Merino, which is a DK weight that knits beautifully on mid-gauge and chunky machines. For the entrelac tunic, I used Lion Fisherman wool. All of my samples were worked on the LK150, but these are methods suitable for all machines. Garter bar, intarsia and entrelac are all methods that do not rely on fancy machines and are worked the same on all brands and gauges.

The class is due to launch at the end of May – I’ll let you know when I have an exact date. I plan to give away FIVE FREE CLASSES to subscribers of this blog so if you have been linking over from Facebook or Twitter, make sure you are subscribed to the blog itself so your name is included in the drawing.

The Farmyard series features wrap-around motifs. I love the ducks!
The Farmyard series features wrap-around motifs. I love the ducks!

Free Intarsia Patterns for Children!!! Because I have had intarsia on my mind a lot lately, I contacted Vogue Knitting and was able to get permission to offer the children’s patterns I did for Family Circle Easy Knitting Magazine as free downloads on my web site. Just go to the “Free Stuff” page and look for Farmyard or Reptile Sweaters. You should blow up the charts when you print them out – magazines always try to save space and these were long patterns with lots of visuals. The charts are small.

 

The beginner class met in mid-april - a great group that hit it off right away - with each other and with me!
The beginner class met in mid-april – a great group that hit it off right away – with each other and with me!

Still time to enroll in a class here in Connecticut! 

The two classes I offered here in Connecticut are over or full, but the local Recreation Department, which is sponsoring the classes, has added another 2-day class on Saturday/Sunday, May 21 & 22. The cost is $150 and includes lunch both days – and dinner at my house on Saturday night. To register, contact the North Branford Rec Dept at 203-484-6017.

Happy Mother’s Day and Happy Spring!

 

 

 

 

 

Cloudborn Yarn – YUM!

Felted slippers in three sizes - easy and fun to knit!
Felted slippers in three sizes – easy and fun to knit!

Quite recently I designed a fun, easy pattern for felted slippers, based on a hand knit pattern that a Norwegian friend shared with me. Worked every-other-needle on a mid-gauge or bulky machine with Cloudborn Bulky Wool Twist, they felted perfectly – and I think they look fabulous.

The pattern includes 3 sizes – the smallest size is suitable for children and you can always felt a second or third time for more shrinkage. This pattern is available for purchase ($4.00) on either Craftsy.com or Revelry.com. Right now I am trying to find the time to finish up a sweet, striped baby sweater using Cloudborn Superwash Merino Sport and once that pattern is written and proofed four times, it will also be available on both Craftsy and Ravelry.

Cloud born has gorgeous alpaca and blends
Cloudborn has gorgeous alpaca and blends

I’m often a little skeptical of mail-ordering yarn, but the Cloudborn yarns are extremely high quality and I have loved the four different yarns that I have worked with so far. Besides, I like to shop in my PJ’s and then wait for UPS to show up with boxes!

My Craftsy affiliate link http://www.craftsy.com/ext/SusanGuagliumi_Cloudborn  will bring you right to the page with all of the Cloudborn yarns. And, by the way, no. None of them are available on cones, but who cares?! Invest in an inexpensive ball winder and enjoy working with some really gorgeous stuff.

Gorgeous colors and a wide range of yarn sizes and content.
Gorgeous colors and a wide range of yarn sizes and content.

 

Sponge Bars

Lately I have done more machine repairs than in all the years I’ve been knitting. The equipment is getting older (aren’t we all?) and plastic and sponge don’t do too well with age and dryness. In January I replaced the entire sinker plate – the base part of the bed in my 860 because I kept feeling needles knock in the exact same spot. That was a major repair that required taking apart the entire machine. Thank goodness for numbered egg cartons and digital cameras to get it all back together with no parts left over!

In the last month I have replaced the handles on both my SK860 and my SK840 machines. They just crumbled in my hands. So, I’ve been doing an inventory of what parts I think might need replacing anytime soon and started ordering them in.

Those of us using Silver Reed products are lucky -as most of the machines are still being made and the parts are available. If you have  a machine that is long out of production, keep an eye out for a machine you can strip for parts when the time comes – as it will. The very best machines for parts are the ones that lived in a box under somebody’s bed where light and air couldn’t age them!

The part that still has some bounce in it is the part that sat under the end of the bed. The rest was flat as a pancake.
The part that still has some bounce in it is the part that sat under the end of the bed. The rest was flat as a pancake.

Last year, I was gifted a Brother Bulky and one of the first things I did was to replace the sponge bar. A bad sponge bar can cause all kinds of problems from needles that won’t stay in hold or be too sloppy to make easy transfers or cables to needles that balk at passing through the pathways under the carriage and cause knocking and jamming. It isn’t just the needles that get damaged – the inner workings of the machines take a hit as well.

This past week I changed the sponge in my LK-150. I was working on some samples for a special project (more on that soon!) and realized I was having to really fuss to make a simple 3-prong transfer. The old sponge looks like refrigerator gasket and I had to peel it out of the trough!

old sponge was compressed and flat - probably a refrigerator gasket. Who knows why!
old sponge was compressed and flat – probably a refrigerator gasket. Who knows why!
All the needles out of the bed and new sponge laid in the trough.
All the needles out of the bed and new sponge laid in the trough.

 

 

Needles back in the bed and everything ready to rock ad roll!
Needles back in the bed and everything ready to rock ad roll!

In order to change a sponge on theLK-150 you need to remove all the needles (yes), lay in the new sponge and then replace the needles one by one. Definitely worth the trouble! The machine has been purring ever since. While I was ordering the new sponge, I also ordered an extra base for both the row counter and the tension mast so I could move them to either side of the bed. Being able to move the row counter around makes it so much easier to keep track of rows when dividing necklines and having an extra tension mast is never a bad idea.

For parts, I always recommend Needle-tek in Washington State. Their web site isn’t great, but you can check them out at www.needle-tek.com or just call and ask for what you need from Bea and Jerry Carriere. Their phone is 360-892-2304. If they don’t have what you need, I’m not sure who does!