Wednesday, February 23, 2011


It has been a very exciting week here in Madison, Wisconsin, between all of the protests and me putting the finishing touches on a soon-to-be-released pattern. Honestly, the last thing I need right now is to write a serious blog post. So today I'm just going to celebrate my recent attempts at learning woolen spinning.

I don't know why I've been stuck spinning worsted for such a long time, especially since I recently waxed poetic about my love of carded batts from the shop Hobbledehoy. It turns out that it really is easier to spin batts woolen than worsted. And oh, I am so in love with the results!

Both of these skeins come from Hobbledehoy batts that were spun woolen and plied. I think I like the two-plies even better than other Hobbledehoy batts that I spun as singles, but that's a little like asking which is your favorite child--I love them all. Happily, I still have one more batt set left that will be used to learn core-spinning!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Stitch In Time

I mentioned A Stitch in Time in my recent review of another vintage pattern book, and thought it was worth sharing more information about this beautiful book with you.

A Stitch in Time is a treasure trove of women's sweater patterns from the 1920's to the 1940's. The 50+ original period patterns were updated to be written in modern terminology and worked with modern yarns. Additionally, each updated pattern is beautifully styled and photographed, which is a major strength of this book.

In terms of the sweaters themselves, there are a huge range of styles from short-sleeved to long-sleeved, cardigans to pull-overs, lace to fair-isle. I also find the variety in sleeve styles particularly delightful, with several puffed-sleeved sweaters, liberal use of shoulder pads, and a particularly unique sleeve-construction in this sweater (Ravelry link).

I love this book for its depth of vintage sweater patterns and for being an never-ending source style inspiration. I've yet to find another sweater book with over 50 patterns; most have half that many. I should note that the number of patterns and the fact that the book is self-published are reflected in the price, which is about twice as much as other sweater books. Still, I believe that this book is a good value and that it's important to support independent designers.

If you're interested in this book, I encourage you to look into the second volume of A Stitch in Time that is coming out at the end of March. The new book covers the 30's through the 50's, and I can't wait to see all of the new patterns! Both the first volume and a pre-order of the second volume can be found at Knit on the Net.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Observe and Report

Being a scientist by training, there is nothing I like better than to observe and quantify. For example, in a previous blog post I chronicled how blocking improved pair of fingerless mitts by defining the lace pattern as well as smoothing out the stockinette portions. It was a interesting study and I thought I should follow up on it by examining how blocking fares with another knitting technique, fair isle.

The photo above compares a fair-isle glove before and after blocking. I can see a slight difference between the two in the cuff area, but I am surprised that blocking did not do more to clean up my uneven pattern stitches. I will have to pay more attention to the evenness of my stitches the next time I'm working in fair isle.

That's not to say that blocking didn't do anything. It actually smoothed out the surface of the knitting so that all of the stitches lay flat and aren't bumpy. If only for this textural reason, I think it's worth blocking my future fair-isle projects. At the very least I will block my next fair-isle item because I want the second glove to match the first!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011


Motivation is a double-edged sword. I love being enthusiastic about a project to the point that I can't put the needles down, but it usually comes to the detriment of other long-term projects I'm working on. I get especially motivated at the beginning of a project, and as much as I plan and try to pace myself, I still ride these motivational highs and lows. The cycle started all over again this week when I started seriously working on my PhD quilt.

There was lots and lots of cutting this week, and even a little bit of sewing, but absolutely no knitting. (At least this means that my sewing machine is finally working correctly. It turns out that you actually need to change the needle from time to time. Oops.) In addition to experiencing new-project motivation, I can't stop working on the quilt because its happy colors are counteracting the gloom of the snowpiles currently outside my window. Is it Spring yet?

As this is my first quilt project, I'm doing a simple design that requires no complicated piecing. The photo above gives a sample of the effect I'm going for, though there will be many more strips in the final quilt-top. I haven't thought about what I'll do after I finish the quilt top, but from the way things looks so far, I doubt that I will loose my enthusiasm for this project anytime soon.