Elise always has something on her needles. Watch her progress on models for The Busy Needle, as well as on her own projects and designs.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Chill people! I know I've not kept this up as I should have been doing... and I'm getting a lot of flak for it. Just settle down. You know my only free time is between 3-5 am!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

July-August Class Schedule

Okay, okay.... I'm working on the July-August class schedule as fast as a I can! Hopefully I'll have it posted by Monday, July 13. I promise I'll send out an email as soon as it posts.

Just to keep you appeased (somewhat!) here's a sneak peak of a couple of classes:

Children's Hats - They make great Christmas presents and we have a new teacher who has made dozens of cute designs from one basic pattern.

Lace Shawl - That new merino/silk blend yarn will be featured in this class. Only two skeins needed for this project! I'm working on the model as fast as I can!

Hardanger II - Bookmarks or Christmas ornaments? Jackie has the bookmark model done, but we have a customer who wants to do Hardanger Christmas ornaments. Which would YOU prefer?

Coming in September - A Man's Sweater - Great for Christmas, and you have time to get this one done!

Coming in October (we hope!) - The Norah Gaughan Collection from Volume 3 - including the Eastlake sweater on which we'll do a class in November, and the Violette-le-duc Sweater shown on the cover. Can't wait to finalize the details with Berroco!

Eastlake Sweater update

Berroco did call me back yesterday, as promised. And they've already posted the sweater corrections on the website.

First, the scarf is knit on the smaller size straight needles. (Once you've done your gauge swatch, you'll know which size that should be.)

Second - You do, indeed, change to the larger size needles when you are ready for the first (ws) decrease row. If you are in gauge, this should be immediately after the seventh leaf pattern row.

While the number of stitches to decrease on each side of the leaf pattern still bothers me (approx 15% on the larger front side, but approx 30% on the smaller), I'm just going to let that one go.

I did talk to Berroco again this morning, however. Decreasing while ribbing just doesn't work. The ribbing gets screwed up and there's no way to keep it in pattern. This ws decrease row on the larger needles needs to be purled on either side of the leaf pattern. By doing it this way, it will also agree with the back when you go to sew the side seams. (Just remember to follow the pattern directions for continuing the ribbing at the sides of the leaf pattern during this row. Don't forget to put in the additional markers.) Then it works!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Norah Gaughan's Eastlake Sweater

On Wednesday (July 3rd) I finished the gauge swatch for Berroco's new Inca Gold yarn. Yummy stuff to work with. Great stitch definition. While the people at Berroco reached gauge on a size 7 US needle, I needed a size 6 US to reach the same specifications.

Gauge is important. ALWAYS make a gauge swatch and block it! I cannot tell you how many disasters it will avert. If I had just jumped into the Eastlake sweater on size 7 needles, it would fit me... but only if I gain 20 lbs! (Not something I'm planning to do!)

Anyway, one of the first things I noticed is that the directions for the front of the pattern do not tell you to switch to the larger size needles (as it does on the back after knitting 1" of ribbing.) And yet the measurements for the top of the bust are the same for the back as they are for the front. Sounded suspicious, but Norah Gaughan often thinks so far outside the box that I have learned to ask questions first, before hollering that something is wrong.

So I thoroughly read through the rest of the pattern, searching for some clue, but could find none. I did find, however, that the instructions for the Eastlake Scarf don't tell you which size of straight needles to use. (The pattern materials indicate two sizes of straight needles and one pair of circular needles are needed for the sweater and scarf.)

As a yarn shop owner, one of the wonderful things I can do is call the folks 'who know' at Berroco and ask specific pattern-related questions. I did that first thing this morning. They said, "Hmmmmm... We'll call you back, hopefully today, probably tomorrow." I really appreciate the fast turn-around. The Berroco folks are ALWAYS helpful and great to work with.

But then, Berroco stands behind their products, unlike some other yarn companies. It shows in Berroco's customer service, and it makes all the difference when I purchase yarn for the shop. It is also first and foremost in my mind when I choose to make shop models, as well as when I pick yarn for my own personal projects. Okay, I just realized I sound like a commercial! And, NO, I don't get paid to say this. LOL!

When I hear from Berroco I'll post their response. I'm sure they'll also put it on their website under Pattern Corrections. (The Pattern Corrections link is at the bottom of their home page.) My suggestion is that you ALWAYS check this link before starting your Berroco pattern.

In fact, you should always check ANY pattern company's website for corrections before starting your garment. It could save a lot of hassles. While I wouldn't have expected to find pattern problems with the Vogue Cover Sweater I just finished knitting, in fact the schematic for the left front has errors on it, and there is an error in the pattern itself. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes.

If I were to do one again...

If I were going to make this sweater a second time I would not lengthen the sleeves, but I would definitely keep the additional length on the sweater. I would also try it in a different yarn.

While I really like the Berroco Love It and the pale yellow is a perfect Spring-Into-Summer and Summer-Into-Autumn sweater, I'd also like to try this sweater in Berroco's Linen Jeans in black so I could wear it in winter over a turtleneck, maybe with black slacks.

I think it would also be gorgeous in a white linen yarn (just a bit thicker, obviously, than Reynold's Soft Linen) to wear during chilly summer evenings. While the spring, autumn and winter versions are okay over t-shirts and turtlenecks, I might like to make this summer version a size smaller so I could wear it over a very light weight sleeveless dress. But that's another project.

In the meantime, I'll photograph the sweater for the blog as soon as it is finished.

The 'Almost Finished' Sweater

When I tried the sweater on, I immediately disliked the additional sleeve length. I know I'll hem them before I wear it the first time, and I recommended that the gals NOT lengthen the sleeves. (Makes me wonder if the Vogue cover shot of the model had the sweater pulled to the back and clipped to make it fit better on her.... a standard technique in photography.)

The length - with the addition of one zigzag and one lace pattern repeat - was, however, perfect! Four of the five ladies in the class have opted to lengthen this sweater. The fifth is long-waisted and wanted a cropped look anyway, so the pattern length will be great for her.

All I have left to do is block the pieces (after I take out the basted seams), and then sew it together correctly. At that point I'll again try it on and will probably fold up the additional sleeve length and sew it as a hem.

Yarn Change!

Here's an update on the Vogue Cover sweater:

I knit the gauge swatch for this sweater and didn't like it. The stitches were too loose at the gauge required. This yarn (Reynold's Soft Linen) definitely looks better knit at a tighter gauge.

Back to the shop for another yarn.

I tried Berroco's Love It in a pale yellow.... and LOVED IT! It knits up beautifully; the stitch definition was wonderful; it felt good at the recommended gauge; so this is the yarn I used.

By the time I left for Washington DC to fly to Greece, I had both fronts and most of the back complete. All I needed to do was finish the lace pattern at the back shoulders, block it, sew it together, and wear it on the plane! Lots of time to accomplish this as I would be in DC for 4 days.

Unfortunately..... I ran out of yarn with 3 rows to go!!!!! I should have known to take an "extra" ball - just in case - but in the rush to pack and get on the road, I didn't put an extra one into my knitting bag. This was just less 48 hours before flight time... no time to have another sent via UPS (and I refused to pay the FedEx overnight charges for one ball of yarn) but plenty of time to have blocked and sewn it together before the flight. Grrr...

I went to Greece without the completed sweater. In fact, I was so upset that I couldn't even bring myself to finish knitting it until last week. Every time I looked at it I got mad all over again and put it back into the bag. I basted it together on July 3rd so I (and the five gals who are taking the class on July 5th) could try it on.

Class response next!

Monday, March 31, 2008

That new sweater...

The decision is made! I've chosen the yarn for the new sweater (the one on the cover of Vogue Knitting Spring/Summer 2008) but it isn't what I thought it would be. I've chosen a Reynolds yarn called Soft Linen in the most gorgeous shade of ice blue.

I'm hoping to have this sweater completed by the time I leave for Greece at the end of April. As I'll be spending a few days in Washington, DC, before my flight, I do have some wiggle room.

Now for the changes....

First, I'm thinking about making this sweater one wave repeat longer than it is shown on the Vogue Knitting cover. Personally I don't like sweaters that hit exactly at the waist - at least not on me - so I have to dig out the tape measure to make sure this is what I want to do before I jump into editing the pattern.

And second, I'm going to make those sleeves a bit longer. It will be difficult to wear a t-shirt under it if the t-shirt arms are sticking out! Since I plan to take mostly t-shirts with me on the trip, this lengthening of the sweater's arms is a must.

Hopefully I can start this tonight, as I've completed my knitting goal for the weekend. (I finished the second hank of Berroco's Linen Jeans on the other sweater I'm making! Yea!)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

I have found my next project!

The sweater on the cover of Vogue Knitting magazine - Spring/Summer 2008 - will be the next project I start. Instead of using the yarn featured, however, I'll probably do this in a Berroco yarn. Perhaps Cotton Twist, Touche, or Love It will work. I'm heading over to The Busy Needle in about 20 minutes and will check the gauges on the ball bands and then make my choice. More after I make up the gauge swatch!

Sometimes you restart...

Yesterday I had to restart a sweater. The gauge swatch matched, but when all the stitches were on the needles it started to stretch width-wise and became much wider than it should have been. Fortunately I'd only knit about 4 inches (2 skeins!) of it before ripping it all out.

I've reknit one skein of the yarn, I can already tell it's much better. It doesn't stretch nearly as much and should be okay now. I went down two needle sizes, but it still is on gauge. Go figure. It obviously was supposed to be blocked open (and I let the yarn relax) when I measured the original gauge swatch. While I wouldn't call this a lace pattern, the open yarnovers made the difference. Grrr... I hate ripping.

I'll post a photo at the end of this weekend (which is Monday for me) so you can see the progress.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Sometimes they practically stitch themselves...

While I do take my time finishing some projects, there are others that just call to me to finish quickly.

Marilyn Leavitt-Imblum's Angel of Hope was one such project. She was completed, framed, and shipped off to a friend in California about a year ago. She only took 6 months to stitch and I was working on other WIPs for the shop at the same time. I've included a photo of the finished piece here, with a slide show of her progress at the bottom of the page.

Hopefully you can see that I chose reds for her hair, instead of the browns suggested in the chart.
Kim (framer extraordinaire at the shop) did a fabulous job in the framing of this piece. Her choice of suede mats with this frame set off the piece exquisitely.

I think this piece would be stunning if I changed her hair to a lighter red, and made the gown's sash a Irish grass green. I will do this one again in those colors..... someday.

When Do I Have the Time?

That's a very good question. I usually tell people I have some free time during my day... usually between 4-5 am, but I'd prefer to sleep!

On a more serious note, I often have multiple projects going at once. Last I counted I had 14 cross stitch pieces in various stages of completion.

The one closest to completion is Marilyn Leavitt-Imblum's Earthdancer. The stitching is finished and the beading is partially done... and it's been on the frame like this for 5+ years now. It was to be a gift for my husband and someday Frank may yet receive it... just not anytime soon. This piece is on the frame at the shop. I'll take a photo of it later this week and post it here. In the meantime, note that the background fabric shown in the chart photo looks brown. The fabric suggested is Prairie Grain linen - and it's green. This is obviously a printing error in the chart's photo. The photo's color register was not correct and the photo was printed anyway. (Fortunately, the piece really does look better on the green linen!)

As soon as the beading is complete on Earthdancer, I have another piece that is ready to go on the frame. Mirabilia's Midsummer Night's Fairy is already stitched and awaiting its beads. I stitched this piece on a white linen background as I didn't feel the blue depicted on the chart did justice to the design. On white, the fairy and tree branch on which she sits just pop off the page. I'll post a photo of my work as soon as I take one.

All of the charts for the pieces on which I'm working are available for sale at The Busy Needle shop as well as on The Busy Needle's website. Please visit us anytime! You can even shop online in your jammies.

After searching for the chart photos for the above pieces, I realize I underestimated the number of works-in-progress that I have going. I'll clue you in to the actual number later when I've taken photos!