October 11, 2014

A Study in Color and Tension: Fall

Fall brings brisk days and a need for toasty hands!
Hello, all! Well it has been a wonderful fall here in the Great Northwest. Everyone has enjoyed some extended time outside lately. The sun has been out and Mother Nature has not exactly turned the thermostat down yet. Today seems to be taking a little turn, though, which makes people like me (Native Northwesterners not accustomed to any kind of heat and who feel more comfort in the cooler, grayer weather) have hope.

And anyway, don't we all have a butt-load of knitting to do? (Yes. I am using that word.)

My class in Lyle, Washington went well. Like last year, lots of folks wandering about at the NW
Jo in Green Giant Ski Hat
Homesteading Fair, but only a couple wanted to sit outside in the lovely Eastern Washington air under a tent for an all-day knitting class. It was still a blast and the day was sunny but, out in the east, windy and crisp. Perfect. Plus, I got to spend some time with Jo, my oldest daughter. 

The hat for that class is now on Ravelry in my pattern store, in case you are interested in a super chunky hat for winter. Plus, Jo discovered that if you accidentally make it a size (or two) too small, it becomes a beanie instead of a ski hat!

Thumb + acorn = cute!
As for my current situation, I am still madly studying for the Master Knitter's program and pinning away on that board. My focus has been on tension. Tension tension TENSION!!

I have been intensely (no exaggeration....you guys know me by now and my obsessive ways....) focusing on tension. I am trying to be keenly aware of my hands and how I am knitting. And I am trying to use some more difficult knitting methods that actually mess with your knitting tension to fix mine.  

Namely: stranded colorwork. I am proud to say that in the year, I have gone from bumpy, lumpy colors and pictures in my knitting and mittens that would not go over my hand past their ribbing to smoother colors and flatter surfaces. How? 

First, I do a ton of reading to go along with all my knitting. After all, who would write a research paper without the facts? Knitting a project is no exception and there are tons of resources! Purl Soho's pinterest board and blog, Knitting Daily's site  (I have the most incurable girl crush on Eunny Jang. Won't even give the new girl a chance.), and even some classes on Craftsy. These are just a few. Get help when you need it!

What I am learning in all of this is that -- write this down (I had to, but that is because I have a terrible memory. You may not have to.)-- ALL OF THE KNITTING SKILLS GO TOGETHER. That is, they all play off each other, and each new skill is useful to the next--and to the last. I will even say that if you think you have a problem with a skill that seems insurmountable, try the next harder skill and see if going back to the earlier problem doesn't make that old toughy seem just that much easier.

I have loved all this learning so much, that I want to pass it on. To that end, I will be actually teaching a class specifically on stranded knitting in the round at my fabulous local yarn shop, Urban Wolves Fibre
My fav pumpkin coffee cup!!!

You can come visit me on October 25th from 10am till 4pm for fun, stranding and mayhem. Fun mayhem. The shops owners Christine and Michael are super folks and offer coffee (good coffee in case you are picky and wondering) and oftentimes they even have snacks. We will have a roarin' silly good time in the wool strands. Promise. 

I have a pattern in testing right now for the class, and it is called Fall Colors Fingerless Mitts. Really, it is an experiment of mine and of owner Christine's. We wanted to see what would happen if we tried to use all of the yarn in 3 skeins of Rowan Pure Wool Worsted. I came up with 3 styles of fingerless mitts in a fall leaf motif, 2 are a bit more intermediate in skill level and one has a nifty acorn that stretches across the thumb gusset, for those who want more of a challenge in their stranded colorwork. 

Come and visit! Especially if you are having a tricky time with stranded tension. I am creating a notebook for students chock full of advice and resources, along with some nifty photography. 

As for my "thought for the week" on the master knitter's study, let's do a concept instead. 

I read an article a while back that went something like this (me paraphrasing from memory): 

Having trouble with your tension? Gauge uneven? Ask yourself: do you knit while enjoying a leisurely cup of coffee in the a.m.? Follow that with knitting on the commute by train? Knit with kids in the background at night in haste before bed?

If you don't want your knitting tension to tell the story of your day, get a grip. Realize when you are knitting tensely and why. Conversely, when are you mellow and relaxed in your knitting? Adjust accordingly. Knowing the problem is half the battle.