Monthly Archives: July 2015

Holiday Knits

It happens every year right around this time. School’s out, the weather is lovely, wool is on sale, and my imagination turns to how we might best enjoy the holidays. The Christmas holidays that is. I’ll explain.
Each summer my family spends a week or so on Martha’s Vineyard with my husband’s parents and as many of his siblings and in-laws as possible. We’re very fortunate to be able to reunite with family in such a beautiful place and with the superb and gracious hospitality that his parents extend.

Here’s a fun collage that captures some of the fun and sun we had this year.

Martha's Vineyard 2015

Vineyard Highlights 2015

Oh you noticed that lovely grey addition to my stash. Here’s a close up:


Summer Stash Enhancement: Linen/Cotton/Silk blend with enough yardage for a small shawl


I found it at a yarn store in Vineyard Haven called Vineyard Knit Works which only coincidentally shares a name similar to this blog. Alas, I was in and out with barely enough time to browse their stock but it certainly seemed worthy of another visit. Next year!

I do get distracted by yarn! You too? Tell me about it ! Seriously – leave me a story in the comments. It’s good to know I’m not alone.

Back to the point: Christmas knitting —  because after all, it’s July already!

Each year as we make the long drive back to New York, it’s always a little sad to reflect on how long it will be before we have a chance to see family again. Perhaps we’ll see them at Thanksgiving, but it may be Christmas before we have another chance. And thinking of Christmas, means thinking of gifts, which means thinking of knitting, and then — *BAM* —suddenly the sadness gives way to the obsessive hunt for the perfect projects and companion yarns for all the potential recipients. I can spend hours crafting elaborate spreadsheets refining my plans for thoughtfully planned and lovingly handmade giving. Well my intentions are in the right place.

Alas, my husband reminds me that not everyone appreciates the homemade (imagine that ) and time dictates that I edit my ambitions. Still, there will be some hand-knits to wrap come the holidays and after many years thinking about Christmas as we drive along the Merit Parkway in the middle of July that I’ve learned to pack an appropriate project to work on to be sure of that.

This year a pair of Pixie Farts designed by the brilliant Canadian designer Barbara Gregory saw some mileage:

Mittens in progress

Handy work

I finished them this morning:

Pixie Farts / Hand knit mittens

Pixie Farts: Pattern by Barbara Gregory knit with Tosh Merino Light / colours Flashdance and Poprocks

These were begun with optimism late last year and abandoned when it was clear they would be too small for the intended recipient. My eldest daughter has however, admired them and though I may have to send them for a tumble in the dryer to see if I can shrink them a bit, I think she’ll like them.

As much as I love the colours and the subtle variegations  I’m not convinced the Tosh Merino Light yarn I used was the right choice for this project. I think my next pair of stranded mittens will be in a plied yarn with a tighter twist.

Most importantly, they were a tremendous learning experience. I’ve never done such ambitious color work and though my technique clearly needs more practice, I think at least a couple people on my gift list will find Gregory designed mittens under the tree.

These are in my favorites all from Twist collective:





Horatio and Oren

Now, how can it possibly be that this designer doesn’t have a fan group established on Ravelry?



Mad for Madtosh

I confess I’m one of those people whose knitting ambitions far exceed the number of available hours in the day. I’m also too easily pulled by the promise of a few skeins of gorgeous hand dyed yarn . As a result I’ve often got several projects on my needles at the same time.

These are all sweaters presently in the works:

clockwise from upper left: Grandpa Cardiagan by Joji Locatelli in DK Twist, Tuck by Veronica Avery in Tosh Sock, Beatnik by Nora Gaughan in Vintage

clockwise from upper left: Grandpa Cardiagan by Joji Locatelli in DK Twist, Tuck by Veronica Avery in Tosh Sock, Beatnik by Nora Gaughan in Vintage

There’s a pretty nice range of projects on the go: each uses a different yarn weight, there are a couple of pullovers and a cardigan, and the styles range from casual to more tailored. At the same time they share a couple of things in common. Most obvious of these is that each of these three projects are being knit in a Madeleinetosh yarn:  Grandpa Cardigan in DK Twist,  Tuck in Tosh Sock, and Beatnik in Vintage.

While there isn’t a Tosh yarn base that I haven’t loved, it’s the colour that always pulls me in. I’m especially fond of the glazed solids with their subtle variegation’s that add a richness to the knitted textile fabric that seems I’ve only ever seen with hand-dyed yarns, and which to me are one of the subtle and very elegant distinctions of a beautifully hand-knit garment.

Madeleinetosh offers so many enviable colourways that I couldn’t choose without the help of serendipity. Knitty City, one of my favorite NYC yarn stores, just happens to be a hop, skip, and a jump from my daughters’ pediatrician and my hair stylist. While this is dangerous for my pocket book it is most advantageous for a little creative inspiration. Their Madeleinetosh stock must move quickly because they seldom have a sweater’s worth of a single colour but on a few occasions I’ve lucked out and found enough yarn in a single, to-die for colourway to make myself a sweater. The Vintage in Candlewick and Tosh Sock in Filigree I’ve currently got on my needles are two such hauls.

The DK Twist in Lolita was part of a particularly optimistic binge at the online shop that also included sweater quantities of DK Twist in Baltic and 80/10/10 Fingering in Seaglass, and Twist Light in Thistle:

Madeleinetosh Sweater Stash

Madeleinetosh Sweater Stash

Given the enormous distribution and popularity of Madeleinetosh yarn it’s clear that the founder and owner Amy Hendrix must be at the helm of a substantial enterprise. Nevertheless, the company has the feel of a small, woman-led, artisanal operation and that’s just the kind of business I’d like my retail therapy to support.


I confess I’m a little slow when it comes to pop culture…. but this is something else!  Apparently, back in 2013, 1. 3 million viewers in Norway (that’s about a quarter of the population) tuned into a 13 hour program that chronicles in more or less real time the knitting process, a program that was part of a broadcast movement called Slow TV.

The idea brings to mind something of the slow films of Andy Warhol or As Slow as Possible by John Cage though this television movement has apparently tapped into the popular zeitgeist (at least in Norway) while the Warhol and Cage projects perhaps remain a bit conceptual even granting their sensory pleasures.

Here’s a little more about the marriage of Slow TV and knitting:

You can watch a bit of the regular program that spun off from the original marathon broadcast here.

Some years ago I enjoyed the company of other knitters in a couple of knit circles. Alas, both groups have since dispersed. Since then,  I sometimes binge watch a television program while I’m knitting in the evening. Maybe Slow Knit TV is the best of both worlds.

Or not.


Casting Off

When I was younger I was very lucky to have friends that liked to sail and memories of sun and wind burn on Lake Ontario are still among my fondest. To this day, when I hear a knitter say that they are ready to cast off, it takes me a short moment to realize that they have completed a knitting a project rather than commencing one.

So, as I neared the end of the knit work on a shawl that’s been my recent obsession, it seemed a as good a day as any for casting off. So here I am launching into a sea of knitting blogs with a celebration of a much anticipated cast off of another sort.

This happened:


But unlike our friends and loved ones (well most of them), it responds well to a little aggressive treatment — in this case blocking. One of the things I find endlessly amazing with lace knitting is the magical transformation that happens in the blocking process.




Here’s a fun comparison of the lace section before and after blocking.

All I Want_preblocked1


All I Want_3



I call it All I Want. Who can resist a Joni Mitchell song, from the album Blue appropriately enough, and especially one that references knitting! Hear it here.

 The pattern in Love in a Mist by an incredibly talented woman who publishes her patterns under the name Boo Knits. If you don’t already know her designs, you need to check them out here.

I’m drawn to the less elaborate designs myself which lend themselves better to subway knitting and a life-style that gets more mileage from simpler, more minimal styles. Boo Knits claims her motto is “maxium impact and minimum stress” and that her projects are quick and easy to make. I can’t speak for all of them but this is my third Boo pattern and each of these has been true to her aim.

Having said all that here is a fair warning: casting off this shawl, with it’s beautiful little picot edge, is, unlike the relative ease of launching a blog, a monumental task!

I cannot say enough about how absolutely amazing the yarn that I used for the project. It’s a merino-silk lace weight by one of my very favorite indie dyers —  Sweetgeorgia Yarns.  Sweetgeorgia earns extra points in my book for being Canadian — I’m just a little less homesick when I’m knitting with Canadian yarn. The base is beautiful to knit with — so soft, beautiful drape and perfectly plied — and the colour! 

Luckily for me the skein was generous enough in yardage that I used less than half of it on this project. I have enough left to make one of these lovelies: AuritaAlcea or Different-lines

I’d love to hear from you about which are your favourites and why. Leave me a note in the comments below.

Do you have a project knit with SweetGeorgia Merino-Silk Lace, or a Love in a Mist project to share? Post it on instagram and mention @Knitworking. I’d love to check it out.