Gift Baby Sweater – class dates correction

It has come to my attention that the dates for the Gift Baby Sweater were mixed up, both on the shop website and in my last post (where I copied and pasted the dates from the shop website).

The correct dates are TUESDAYS 8/4, 8/11, and 8/18.

If you are interested in the class, please email me directly, as the shop is closed today, and the class listing has been taken off the website.

Sorry for the confusion!  I expect to offer the class again in the fall, if you miss it this time.

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Gift Baby Sweater

IMG_20150721_122148_kindlephoto-249361707I just finished this cute baby sweater as an example for an upcoming class at Nitro Knitters.

The pattern is free on Ravelry, called "My Gift to You" because it is the designer's 300th pattern.  300 patterns!  Holy cow!

And it is a pretty fun knit!  The only real flaw is that when knit as written, the last repeat of the textured pattern wants to flip up around the bottom edge (not so much on the sleeves).  So if I were to do this again using this stitch pattern, I’d finish with either an inch of the 1 x 1 rib, or garter stitch, like this knitter did.


Other than that minor issue, I really like it.  The asymmetrical opening adds a super-cute touch.  I used some colorful worsted weight yarn I already had, but you could really knit it in anything washable and worsted weight.  If I didn't already have a yarn shop in my house, I'd have knit it in this cute "crayon" washable wool by Plymouth (available at Nitro).

Ravelry shows some nice customizing that others have done, including color blocking and changing the textured stitch pattern.  I have to confess that I didn't 100% love knitting the stitch that is in the pattern:  not that it was difficult in any way, but it wasn't all that easy to "read" and keep track of.  I am a lazy knitter at heart and I like to keep things simple for myself!

So, in class, we will discuss how to change the pattern up to use other stitch patterns, including the MMMATH you need to do it.  Don't worry, it will be pretty painless, and you don't have to do it if you don't want to.  But hey, you might learn something anyway if you join us!  Class dates are Tuesdays, 8/6, 8/13, and 8/20 8/4, 8/11, and 8/18.  See you there!

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Almost Famous

Wow, it looks like my little blog made the Oregonian! A really nice article appeared today about Nitro Knitters.  So, if you arrived here by that route, welcome.

I feel like it might be a good idea to explain that this isn't exactly your typical knitting blog.  This site grew out of my previous teaching life, when I taught at various locations in and around Beaverton.  I needed one place where I could list all the classes and locations I was teaching, and this was it.  So you'll find a certain amount of outdated class listings here, if you browse in chronological order.  But in between those, though, there is some good stuff.  For example, on the sidebar, down on the right side, you'll see that my post about the "yo-yo" sock heel has been viewed a few (tens of thousands!!) times.  And hiding back in the mists of time are informative posts like how to Kitchener without a tapestry needle.

In the back of my mind, I have long harbored the intention of starting a new website — not a blog about "what I knit today", but more a place to publish those "good bits" of useful and/or interesting knitting information.  And now that I'm about to get back in teaching mode, that idea keeps resurfacing.  It sounds to me like it would thoroughly complement the teaching philosophy at Nitro Knitters — so who knows? I might actually bring it to fruition over the next year or so.  I know, I've said that before… and I'm going to be busy teaching, and I do need to have some time to actually knit, after all.

But it could happen.  Especially since I won't have to publish my class schedules on my own site any more.  Nitro's website has everything on it now – you can even sign up for classes online! — so it's worth taking a look over there.

Ribwarmer Revisited FrontMeanwhile, the past couple of weeks have been a roller coaster for me.  On the one hand, I'm a little stressed.  There's a lot of behind-the-scenes work to do, getting things ready.  I've been sorting out all my old handouts and samples and patterns, and polishing stuff up for the new topics I'll be teaching.  I unloaded my "teaching bag" years ago, so I have to put that back together, with all the little things like extra yarn and needles that are sometimes handy to have around in a class.

On the other hand, I am excited to be remembered and yes, possibly even in demand. OK, I realize that sounds sort of pathetic, but it isn't meant to.  What it means is, I have been reconnecting with knitters I haven't seen or heard from literally in years — some in person, some in emails — and it has been immensely gratifying to see how far some of my former students have come with their knitting skills and enjoyment.

One such knitter graciously wore and allowed me to photograph her "Ribwarmer Restyled" vest, which was a class I taught back in 2009 – 2010.

If you're familiar with Elizabeth Zimmerman's Ribwarmer, you may be aware that the actual "pattern", if you can call it that, is about one medium-length paragraph and is only given in one size.  For my classes, I wrote up a 7-page handout that included a schematic and I did a lot of math to allow knitters to make the project in a range of sizes.Ribwarmer Revisited Back

But of course, when you are a teacher, you teach that last class and away everyone goes.  You don't always get to see how it works out.  So I was super-pleased to see the finished product live and in person!

And I am reading comments and emails like this one:

"…so glad to hear you will be teaching at Nitro Knitters!  I took one of your "fix-it" classes years ago at the Knitting Bee and it has empowered me ever since."

Now THAT is an awesome thing to hear from a knitter!  As a matter of fact, my "Knit Fixes" class is one of the very first ones I put on the new schedule.  It has always been one of my favorite classes to teach, and I loved seeing novice knitters gain so much knowledge and confidence in the course of two hours.

"Empowered," she wrote.

I mean, that's what I set out to do, but I'm not sure I was ever really convinced that I had done it.

Now I find out that I did do it, after all.

And better than that — I get to do it again.  How lucky can a girl get?

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Snow Daze

Well.  Here we are on our third day of being more-or-less housebound in the PDX area, due to roughly a foot of snowfall.  (I know, a foot of snow doesn't stop most of the country in its tracks, but it is a rarity for us.)  DH is going stir-crazy, although the Olympics have helped a bit with the boredom factor.

Speaking of the Olympics — holy crap, what was Ralph Lauren thinking with those opening ceremony sweaters?  The wool for those things was sourced from right here in Oregon, and I used to be proud of that fact.  If I were more cynical, I'd think that RL and Co. were mocking the fuddy-duddy image that handknitting still has for a lot of uninformed people.  Comparisons are being made to team Andorra's sweaters but really.  Andorra's sweaters are extremely stylish, classy, black-and-white Fair Isle with a modern pop of orange, and probably a helluva lot of work too.  I don't know for sure if they were hand-knit, but they are definitely at a much smaller gauge.

Anyway, between the snow and the Olympics, I suspect a lot of local knitters got a lot of knitting done this weekend.  YAY!  Am I among them?  Well, no.  I did get an initial swatch made for an upcoming design project, but that is about the extent of my knitting.

IMG_4004On the other hand, I did handle a lot of yarn, so maybe that counts for something?

What with getting back into teaching shortly, I've been doing some sorting through boxes of old samples and class material, as well as going through my knitted wardrobe with a critical eye and armed with a box of "Dry Cleaners Secret" sheets (which I had a hard time finding, and now appear to be branded with the Woolite label.  Same stuff though).  I pulled everything off my sweater shelf and dumped it on the table in the studio — which made a pretty impressive pile, actually — and got to work.

The amount of time I have spent this weekend with a fabric shaver in my hand is not to be believed, BUT several of my older sweaters now look astonishingly new again.  I was particularly stunned by how clean and colorful the colorwork on my Lopi sweater looks now, with 13 years of fuzziness shaved off the surface.


The fun part was finding out that I have over thirty hand-knitted garments!  Not counting scarves, hats, socks and so on.  I counted 35 garments total on my sweater shelf, and only three of them were not personally hand-knit by me.  One, a mohair blend sweater that was a graduation gift from my sister; two, a little vintage evening-type shell made, as far as I can tell, out of pure angora; and three, a supremely fuzzy mohair pullover that I bought at a consignment shop, definitely hand-knit by somebody, possibly out of Mohair Lungo.  (And, I keep saying that one day I am going to copy that sweater, because I wear the crap out of it.  So to whoever lovingly knit it and then gave it up — I for one appreciate it.)

I've been making sure they are all clean, the smooth ones have the pills and extra fuzz shaved off, and the mohair ones are fluffed up with the mohair brush.  I've been fixing a few little annoyances, too, like tightening up the buttonholes on one of the cardigans.  A few have been relegated to the "frog" pile and one or two need some more in-depth fixes.  But slowly the sweater shelf is being filled back up again — with garments that I know like old friends, almost every stitch made by me.  It's a good feeling.???????????????????????????????

On the other hand, last week I bought yarn for not one but TWO tank top projects, and those have me excited too — because knitting teachers have to look ahead, and despite the snow outside, tank top weather will be here before you know it.  One of the tanks is definitely going to be a class sample:  an easy intro to sweater design, with a few variations to keep things interesting, but not so much of the m-word (MATH) and no sleeves to worry about.  (Of course, if you are into sleeves, you could think about making a cute little shrug to go over your tank.)

The other is a tank I'm knitting in some yummy Shibui Staccato just for myself, although I already plan to change it — I think I am going to ditch the chunky-looking ribbing at the top in favor of something a bit more delicate.  It looks like I am in good company there, as a lot of other Ravelry knitters appear to have doubled the main yarn to do the ribbed section.  If it goes well, it could turn into a class project or a knitalong too.

As the saying goes, "Make new friends, but keep the old!"

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Nitro Knitters About To Blast Off

Calling all knitters… A new shop is about to open in South Beaverton, OR.

The official Grand Opening of "Nitro Knitters" will start on Valentine's Day, Friday, Feb 14th, and continue over the weekend.

Nitro Card

Tue: 10:00 am – 8:00 pm

Wed: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm

Thu: 9:00 am – 6:00 pm

Fri – Sat: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm

Sun: 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm



(click the card image for a larger, readable version.  Click your browser's "back arrow" to return to this post.)


It's not just a yarn shop, though.  As you can see, Nitro Knitters is a "Yarn Shop & Knitting School".

(And one with a particularly attractive logo, I might add.  No, I really didn't have anything to do with that, but the resemblance is quite a coincidence, don't you think?)


For yours truly, this place is sounding like a dream come true.

A knitting school, with emphasis on techniques as well as projects, so you can learn how to knit things you love, love, LOVE.

A yarn shop that is focused on yarns you don't find everywhere else, including yarns dyed exclusively for Nitro Knitters.

A business that supports locally-owned and women-owned suppliers, as well as fair-trade practices for the international goods.

Social and charitable knitting groups, as well as knit-alongs and *ahem* excellent classes.

Nitro Knitter HomeLocated at the intersection of Scholls Ferry Road and Nimbus Ave — it's in the strip mall where the old Paper Zone store used to be — it is only six minutes from my house.


Only one thing could make it any better…  drum roll, please…


YES!  I will indeed be teaching here!

I'm SO EXCITED!  I hope you are too.  I am looking forward to getting back in the groove, seeing old friends and meeting new ones.

The fabulous, talented and like-minded Anne Laird will also be teaching here.  I am pleased and flattered that she has asked me to join the team.  I haven't taught anywhere in the past couple of years, and I think I owe a huge debt of gratitude to many former students, who have apparently remembered more than a few of my words of wisdom.  Truly, I am so happy to know that I really did make a positive difference in your knitting lives.  And I sure hope you're ready for more good stuff!

While I don't have anything penciled in on the class calendar yet, I am working on it.  Meanwhile, some of the festivities that are already scheduled include:

SOCIAL KNITTING:  Tuesdays from 5-8 pm; Thursdays from 9 am -12 noon.

HOPE CHEST KNITTING:  This is geared towards charitable knitting projects.  The group will meet on Wednesdays from 3:30-5:30 pm.  The first project will be "Critters for Kids".

KNIT-ALONGS:  will be held on Fridays from 4-6 pm, and Sundays from 3-5 pm.  These will have an emphasis on accessories, with a little bit of technique instruction to get you trying something new.


Hope to see you there!  and Happy Knitting!

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“Teach someone to knit.”

A long, long time ago — we're talking at least a couple of decades — I started one of those lists that are now often called "bucket" lists — you know, things you want to do before you "kick the bucket".  (Only at the time I did mine, the list was titled "50 Things to Do Before You Die", which is a little more direct and a lot more specific.)

It turns out, 50 things is a LOT.  I don't have the original list anymore, but I think I only got to around 30, and half of those were places to travel to.

I can't remember all of it exactly, but I have indeed crossed the equator (New Zealand, 2008).  I have not yet driven on the left side of the road, despite having had a couple of opportunities to do so.  (Both times – New Zealand and Ireland – the vehicles available were stick shifts and I just didn't think I could manage that as well.)

But one of the items on that list — one of the first items, in fact — was, "Teach someone to knit."

At the time, I think I was just desperate to know someone else who knitted.  The first person I taught was a woman I had known since kindergarten, in a sports bar, practically in the dark.  Eventually, those four words ended up becoming a new career, with more far-reaching consequences than I will ever know about.

I don't know how many knitters I've taught, but I think it's safe to say it's comfortably over a thousand by now — according to my records, it's more than 200 knitters just in private lessons.  I don't remember all the faces, much less all the names.  I'm sure there have been plenty of students I've taught who have given up the sport, or who didn't think I was so hot of an instructor.

But the other day, I was at the LYS — and as it turns out, so was one of my former students.

And she told me I had changed her knitting life.

She used to be a "thrower" and knitted very tightly, she said, and had tense shoulders, and it wasn't a lot of fun.

Then she took my Continental knitting class.  Wherein I commanded told suggested nicely to everyone to "lighten up", she recalled.

Well, I often say  tight knitting is not happy knitting.  Apparently, I was right at least once.  😉

I don't know when she took the class, but it sounded like it was a few years back.  She has been knitting Continental style ever since, and her knitting now brings her joy instead of stress.  She's still at the yarn shop, still having fun, and I still have someone to talk to about knitting.

I'm teaching that class again this very afternoon, and who knows what joy it may bring to yet another knitter…

Now that's a happy ending!

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Finally, Sweater Pix!

You know that stupid cutesy saying,

"If it weren't for the last minute, nothing would get done."

OK, OK, I bow to reality.

Tomorrow we are getting on a plane to attend my niece's wedding in Chicago.  I promised myself I'd get the pictures of the sweater knitters posted before the trip.  I'd have had it done already, actually, if it weren't that when I sat down to do it last Tuesday, I found out my camera was still sitting in DH's truck.  At work.  With all the pictures still on it.

And then there was that holiday weekend, with DH underfoot an extra day.  And the day I had to spend shopping with Rock Star to find a dress for the aforementioned wedding.  (Rock Star is also going to a wedding this weekend, but hers is on a beach and she practically gets to wear pajamas.  How unfair is that?)

Anyway, the final sweater class was a week and a half ago and I'm still stoked over how awesome my sweater knitters are.  Check them out!

Click on a thumbnail picture to enter the "gallery", where you can see bigger versions of the pictures.  If you then click on THAT photo you'll see an even BIGGER version (useful for checking out details).  You can click on the thumbnail of the previous or next photo to browse through the gallery.  Also you can leave comments on specific pics if you are so inclined.

BTW, you may notice that my two example sweaters I was knitting along with the class are conspicuous by their absence.  Yup, they are.  I'm, uh, saving them for another time.

I wish I had more time to write about how great the class was and how glad I am that I decided to do it.  I usually don't teach much in the summers, but this one was a blast!  very fun to teach! 

But, this is all I have time for right now.  Sry.  Gotta pack.

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HI! didja miss me?

Wowsers, it's been an eventful couple of months at my house.  At my NEW house, of course — where I'd say we are about 2/3 unpacked by now.

I'm estimating it will take until December to get the rest unpacked and put away, donated, recycled, or thrown away.  Way back in the beginning, I said this was going to be a year-long project.  We first went out househunting with the realtor on December 29th, so at this point I'm still sticking with my original estimate.  (Although I keep hearing from people about how they have boxes still to unpack from moves that were three years ago.)

I discovered something very important about DH during this exercise:  he was under the impression that the way you "sort stuff out" is, you bring it all to the new place, put away as much stuff as you can, and then chuck the rest.  Arrrrgh!  I wish I'd known this sooner!

This house is smaller by about 10% — one full bedroom — and actually, it's been much LESS difficult downsizing than I was concerned it might be.  Admittedly, the extra storage afforded by the mammoth crawl space and "man cave" under the house has a lot to do with that — but still, there's quite a bit of storage on the main floor.

Although the studio space has once again been significantly downsized, I've been cramming organizing a lot of stuff in there and I haven't yet run out of room.  Ya gotta go vertical, baby!  Floor to ceiling.

(Those first two bookcases are 100% knitting books, BTW.)studio

pile o' yarn

EXCEPT there's one big problem.  I haven't even started trying to fit this in:  the YARN STASH.  Yup, all those good-sized moving boxes are chock full of yarn.  OK, there is a piece of furniture under all that, but there's still a lot of yarn.  Those medium boxes are 3 cubic feet apiece, so we're talking well over 20 cubic feet of yarn here. 

This picture is a tad out of date, even, as there is a bit more yarn that has been unearthed, in some of those dread boxes marked "MISC".  I'm starting to hate those boxes.

(Never fear:  my fallback plan involves a platform bed with built-in storage drawers.  Also, I began referring to the guest bedroom as "studio overflow" even before we moved, to get DH in the right frame of mind.)

It's also been an eventful couple of months over at the old house, which has now been rented – hooray!

So instead of trying to sell that one, we can now concentrate on doing cool stuff to this one.  I've already redone the back deck and put a screen room on the front, complete with a ventilated litter box enclosure.  Well, in my head, anyway.  Trust me, it'll be AWESOME.

Actually, it's already awesome.  We are both enjoying living here so much more than the other house.  Someone asked us the other day if it has all been worth it — we both were like, "HECK YES!"  Even with boxes everywhere and a wood floor I haven't quite figured out how to keep clean, I sort of can't believe I live in this terrific house — in much the same way that some days, I can't believe we don't live in Texas anymore.  w00t!  w00t!

Teh Joy uv SunbeemzMorgan the Emperor is still doing well, and with his creaky old arthritic legs, he seems to be enjoying the single-level house a lot.  And both cats have discovered the Joy of Sunbeams on the wood floor.

The dogs have adjusted well to the smaller back yard, although the Fourth of July was difficult for them:  the house is pretty high up, and we had an excellent view of fireworks all around us.  LOTS of fireworks.  Consequently, we administered lots of doggie downers.  For like, a week.

Of course, all this means actual knitting has taken a little bit of a backseat.  But not as much as you might think!  For the first time, I decided to teach a class at the Garden Home Rec Center over the summer.  Marlene said I could teach anything I wanted, so I took the gamble of doing a design-your-own sweater class.  And it has exceeded my wildest expectations.

These pictures are a little bit out of date as well, but you can see that we have a few well-fitting sweaters coming right along!  Thanks to DeDe, Stephanie and Linda!

DeDe's sweaterStephanie's sweaterLinda's sweater

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Knitting Resolutions (2009 Redux Edition)

On's knitting section, I found a poll for "What are Your Knitting Resolutions for 2009?"

OK, so it's a year out of date, but I figure things can't have changed all that much in a year.

Here are the results:  two of the more recurrent themes in my own knitting top the list — and why yes indeedy, they are just about the same as a year ago.  Why am I not surprised?  But it's good to know that I'm not alone.

  • To knit more from my stash.  (223)  20%
  • To finish my unfinished projects.  (188)  17%
  • To learn a new technique.  (160)  15%
  • To knit more often.  (144)  13%
  • To knit more for myself.  (103)  9%
  • To knit more for charity.  (99)  9%
  • To teach someone to knit.  (63)  5%
  • To join/start a knitting group.  (41)  3%
  • To learn how to knit.  (24)  2%
  • Some other answer.  (20)  1%

As a brilliant segue, let me just suggest that I actually can help out with a couple of those.  Of course, "learning new techniques" falls nicely into the Group Knitting classes I do at Garden Home Rec Center — but also, those classes can help with "knitting more often" since you have a "knitting date"!

And I take pride in the fact that I have nagged coached more than one Extreme UFO into completion — "extreme" being defined here as a UFO whose age is into double digits.  (Specifically, there was Marlene's only UFO — and then there was the one of Mary's that was old enough to drink.)

The upcoming Summer Sweater Knit-Along will help you learn how to use up that stash in a hurry!  (Disclaimer:  This is one of those "Do as I say, not as I do" things.)

I'm still mulling over my own "resolutions", which I'm thinking about as more "What do I really want to knit this year?"  To which my answer is, "Sweaters" — but specifically, which ones?  Haven't gotten that far yet, but I'll let you know when I have a short list.  I might have to hurry and pick something, because those Winter Games are coming up soon…

So — what are you knitting this year?

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New Year’s Knitting Resolutions

Ho Ho Ho, a belated Merry Christmas to you both and especially, a Happy New Year!

new year

I took an inadvertent holiday break last week, because the post I had slaved over all day Tuesday turned out to have — issues.

It was going to be a doozy, too, with a video and everything.  But for reasons I still have not fathomed, after all that filming and editing and uploading — once it was published here on the blog, my video ended abruptly just moments before the grand finale.  Eventually I'll get it figured out — but in the days right before Christmas, it apparently was not to be.

This week, though, I'm all over New Year's.  I prefer New Year's to Christmas, actually — partly because the whole mess and stress of choosing, buying, spending, wrapping and mailing is over — and partly because of the lure of the idea of a WHOLE SHINY NEW YEAR ahead.  A year with all kinds of knitting possibilities.

And with the end of my ongoing finish-all-the-UFO's quest finally in sight, I'm thinking about this:

What do I want to knit next year?

That's an interesting question, isn't it?

For a lot of knitters, I suspect they start most projects kind of impulsively (*coff* *coff* Sheryl).  This is, of course, fine — nothing wrong with it, if (a) you aren't terribly picky about what knitted item you end up with, or (b) you simply enjoy knitting what everyone else is knitting on Ravelry or in your local knitting group.

Both of those motivations are more about the "process" versus the "product".  But for a dedicated "product" knitter like myself, the impulse method of project selection just doesn't cut it.  Well, I blame it on being a product knitter, but that's not the whole reason…

The sad truth of it is, most of the items that are traditionally knitted are not ones I wear or use.

Know thyself, it is said — and by now I know that, for example, I'm probably more likely to go outside naked than wear a hat (unless I'm skiing).  Same goes for wraps, shawls and ponchos — I have a few of those around here that simply don't get worn.  Socks are perfect for DH, but not for me.  (I have plenty and have not worn one out yet; DH's socks get repaired on a regular basis.)

OK, I admit I'm surprised how much I wear my one pair of mitts, but not to the point where I'm going to knit a bunch more of them.

So… what's left for me to knit?  Sweaters, of course!  For me, it's always been about sweaters.  But those are not items one knits on impulse.  At least, not if one wants them to fit properly, and look good, and picky stuff like that.

So this year, I think I am going to go back through some old Vogue Knitting mags, dig through my pile of earmarked items, and knit some of the things sweaters I've always wanted to knit, but have simply never actively made the decision to do so.  I expect you'll be hearing a lot more about this in weeks to come.

But enough about me.  What about you?

Are you an otherwise confident knitter who has always wanted to make or design a sweater, but… [insert roadblock here]?

I'm asking for a reason.  I've been scheduling classes lately as far out as the summer, and I have an opportunity to schedule a sweater design knit-along class for the summer term at the Garden Home Rec Center.

Before I actually schedule and commit to it, though, I would like to get an idea of how much interest there would be.  So if you think you might be interested, read on.
Here’s what I am working with:
Location:  Garden Home Rec Center, 7475 SW Oleson Rd.  (This rec center is part of the THPRD system.)
Description:  Knitters would swatch, measure, calculate and knit a top-down style sweater, using any yarn they wish — although the gauge will probably have to be 4 sts or fewer per inch (i.e. bigger sts) to ensure keeping up with the class schedule.  Probably a set-in sleeve style rather than a raglan, because I’ve done a couple of those now and I think overall, they are classier — they seem to take less yarn, fit better, and are in some ways easier to do.
Times/Dates:  This would be an 8 to 10 week class, meeting once per week, during the summer term.  (I know summer is not ideal for knitters, but it’s what I have to work with.)  The last sweater knitalong I did went about 8 sessions.  I’d probably schedule an extra session for catching up, what with summer vacations and things, plus another additional one if we did a cardigan requiring buttonholes.
Cost:  I am not sure how THPRD calculates class costs, but for now I assume it would be comparable to the rates for my group knitting classes.  Going by that, I’d estimate for In-District knitters, the price would be around $110 for 10 sessions — a bit less if we have fewer sessions.
Call to Action:  If you think you might be interested in this class, please leave something in the comments — just a simple "yes" will do.  If you enter a valid email address when you comment, I will probably use it to let you know if & when the class is actually scheduled.  If you want to send me more detailed info about what times & days will, or will not, work for you, so that I can try to take it into account when I do the scheduling, please do so by clicking here to send me an email.
I need to have this put to bed by January 7th, so please don't delay in adding your input.  (If you've already replied to my recent email, though, you don't have to do so again.)
Finally, if you want to read through some of the blog posts regarding the previous knitalong that I did at the Farmhouse Knit Shop, please click here.  And maybe we'll all knit a sweater this New Year!

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Now Here’s a Great Gift Idea…

… for a knitter, that is.  Especially the knitter who already has way too much yarn, and too many books, and all the gadgets she can feasibly use.  (Not that I know anyone like that.  And hey, it took me over 20 years of solid dedication to get there.)pink knitting

But it's also a perfect gift for the new knitter, or the "beyond beginner" knitter looking to sharpen her skills a little.

What about a knitting class?

More specifically, my knitting classes!  As long as the knitter can get to the Garden Home Rec Center once a week, for knitting-related fun.

Top Ten Reasons to take Tess' GH Group Knitting Class
  1. Get top-notch instruction — from a 20+ year knitter, with 6 years' experience teaching knitting.  See my FO photo stream on Flickr.
  2. Enjoy socializing — meet other knitters, and discuss anything under the sun (except politics, religion, and complaints about yarn shops).
  3. Get away from it all & take a break for a couple-three hours out of the house every week — with adults!
  4. Take advantage of a solid block of uninterrupted project working time — If you've got a UFO you need to finish, I'm your coach.  Just ask Marlene.  And the big ol' tables at Garden Home are awesome for sewing pieces together.
  5. Learn from others as they work on their own projects, and ask questions you might not have thought about.
  6. It's affordable — less than $6 an hour!  Can't beat that anywhere in town.
  7. It's enjoyable — we keep it fun!  No deadlines, no stress, no tight knitting.
  8. It's personalized — work on whatever project you wish, and get help as you need it.  And I don't necessarily make you knit with pink MOHAIR, whatever you may have heard.
  9. um…  knitting is good.
  10. maybe someone can fill in a couple more reasons in the comments?
  11. 12/20 ETA:  Beginners are totally welcome, too!

    Here are the details on the upcoming Winter & Spring sessions!

    GH34510:  Monday evenings, 7:00-9:00pm ~~~ Jan 25 – Mar 15, 2010 (No class 2/15 )

    7 sessions

    Regular $75.00, Senior $56.25

    GH34511:  Wednesday mornings, 9:30-11:30am ~~~ Jan 20 – Mar 17, 2010

    9 sessions

    Regular $96.00, Senior $72.00

    GH44509:  Monday evenings, 7:00-9:00pm ~~~ Mar 29 – Jun 14, 2010 (No class 4/5 and 5/31)

    10 sessions

    Regular $107.00, Senior $80.25

    GH44510:  Wednesday mornings, 9:30-11:30am ~~~ Mar 31 – Jun 16, 2010 (No class 6/2)

    11 sessions

    Regular $118.00, Senior $88.50


    12/20/09 Edited to add —

    Class registration

    Register by phone, by mail, by fax, walk in or online — get all the details at

    Garden Home Recreation Center
    7475 SW Oleson Rd
    Portland, OR 97223
    phone 503/629-6341

    Registration starting times are:
    In-District – 9:00 a.m., Saturday, Jan. 9, 2010
    Out-of-District – 8:30 a.m., Friday, Jan. 16, 2010

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    News Flashes

    Well, life has been happening with a vengeance around our house the past few days.  So you’ll have to forgive me for just throwing out a couple of updates here.

    First of all, there are a few spots left in the Knitting 911 class this Thursday night at Knitting Bee.  This class is always a lot of fun for me, to watch knitters go from "how did you do that?" to "I can do that!" in a mere two hours.  Call Knitting Bee at 503.439.3316 if you’re interested!

    KNITTING 911
    Thursday, 5-21-09     6:00-8:00 pm

    "When good stitches go bad"  If your biggest knitting complaint is that you don’t know what to do when it’s screwed up, this is the class for you.  We’ll work with a swatch so there’s "no fear" and we’ll make and fix many common mistakes.  Learn important things about the way knitted fabric "works" that you didn’t know were important!  Class fee: $25

    rite of spring lace sock

    Secondly, the "Rite of Spring" lace sock pattern, which was the April exclusive to the Fearless Fibers lace club, is now available for everyone to purchase as a Ravelry download!  let’s see if this works…

    pink lace socks

    I am unsure whether you have to be a Ravelry member to use that button.  (But if you’re not, what the heck are you waiting for?)

    I finished my own pair and here’s the proof — yay!

    In actual knitting news, I have been working diligently on the Socks from Hell for DH.  Well, I actually ripped out and restarted the Socks from Hell.  (And I had gotten the damned things past the heel — both of ’em!!)

    Turns out they were really too tight and the ribbing was really stretched out when DH put them on, and they just looked crappy.  So I started over, and fixed a couple of things, including what I think is a mistake in the pattern stitch — and I’m really a lot more happy with them than I would have ever thought I could be with this project.  So I’ll be discussing those in more detail in my series on sock designing.  Just not today…

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    Short-Row Bust Darts

    For about half of the “Magnificent 7 Guinea Pigs” group, one of the big fit issues was how to fit a sweater for a generous bust without it becoming a gunny sack.

    OK, I have basically no background in the generous bust department.  But we’ve all been giving it our best shot, and successfully, too!  Here’s one more of our guinea pigs, and here’s how nicely her sweater fits:

    front viewside view

    How’s that for a work of art?  How’s that for no extra big wad of fabric under the arm, huh??

    Here’s the short-row bust dart section that saves the day!

    front with short rows outlined

    We did have some trouble deciding just how big to make the bust darts, and where to place them.  I started with an article out of Knitty, which suggests the following:

    The vertical length of this section depends on your cup size. Estimate about 0.75 to 1 inch for a C cup, and add 0.75 to 1 inch for each full increment (to D, E, etc.).

    The short rows start … a couple of inches below the [underarm]…

    The first pair of short rows should end about 1 inch shy of the side seams. The last pair should end about 1 inch outside the bust point.

    My opinion as of right now is this:

    Thumbs up on where the short rows should start (about 2 inches below the underarm shaping, +/- an inch).

    Thumbs up on how long the bust dart should be:  starting an inch from the side seam, and ending an inch from the bust point.  This dimension is pretty easy to measure.

    Not so sure about the cup size thing, though… I don’t believe a one-size-fits-all rule of thumb works here.

    We did things a little differently, after one of the other knitters in the group had a sort of epiphany:  she figured out how to measure the size of the short-row section.  It may seem obvious once you see these next pictures, but believe me, it wasn’t obvious at all until Mary said, in effect, “Eureka!”side view with measurements

    Basically, the length of the short-row section needs to be the difference between these two measurements:

    1. the length the fabric needs to be to go over the fullest part of the bust, and
    2. the length the fabric needs to be to go over the part with no bust.

    Almost obvious, once you look at this picture:  the distance over the bust is of course longer than the distance down the side, and it’s this difference that needs to be accommodated with the short rows.

    But the great thing about it is, you can measure this distance instead of guesstimating!  And that’s the way to figure out how long the bust dart section should be.

    There’s one more very important factor to think about, though — and this is where the Knitty rule of thumb really falls flat, as it were, heh heh.

    Notice I said it’s the difference in the lengths of the fabric needed – which means, not necessarily the actual body measurements — it means the body measurements with ease included.

    The less fitted your sweater is, the less of a “pocket” you’re gonna need for the girls, right?

    For example, if this sweater were looser, the difference in fabric needed to go over the bust would be less.  Or, think about it this way:  if the sweater is baggy enough, it won’t need any kind of bust shaping.

    The cup-size system doesn’t include any indication of how much ease is involved, or how fitted of a sweater they are envisioning — and we all know there’s a world of difference between one person’s idea of “average fit” and another’s.

    So, in the end, you will still have to make some kind of judgment call as to how much additional fabric you’re going to need for your own particular bust, and your amount of ease.  For this particular sweater, we chose to make the short row section about an inch longer than the cup-size estimation indicated, as it is a rather fitted style.

    And once you know those two dimensions (length of the short row section, and length of the bust dart), the actual nuts & bolts of calculating the short rows becomes a matter of math.

    Convert the required length of the SR section to rows; convert the required length (or if you prefer, width) of the dart itself to sts.

    Divide the number of rows by the number of sts to figure out how many sts shorter each subsequent short row will be.  There is one catch:  start by subtracting 2 from the number of rows you have to work with, because you’ll need them for starting and finishing the short row section.

    There’s one more GP who kind of fell behind in the project, and we’re still waiting to see how things work out with hers – but after this, I’m pretty confident we’ll have another great-fitting sweater!

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    More Great Guinea Pigs

    OK, I admit it’s been a couple of weeks, and I still have not fixed the collar on my top-down V-neck raglan from the Friday group class knit-along.  Part of that is due to a whole lot of teaching going on, and part of that is due to another sock pattern I am designing for my friend Deb of Fearless Fibers…  you’ll hear more about that later.

    Mary's sweaterBut even if I haven’t been working on my sweater, there are other knitters who are working on theirs!  Check them out!

    First we have Mary, who bravely put some cables on the front and sleeves of hers — sorry though, somehow I managed not to take a picture of the front or the sleeves.  But there’s the back, with a nice little cable detail she placed back there as well  — notice how the cable detail pulls the fabric in a bit and helps to provide some waist shaping, too.  Clever!

    cable detail on Mary's sweater




    Leslie is not knitting her "cruelty-free" sweater for herself, so she declined to model it… however, we’ve seen pictures of it on the recipient and I guarantee you it fits her.

    Leslie hiding behind her sweater

    Linda's sweater

    Linda‘s sweater was last seen partially completed a couple of weeks ago, and here it is fully completed! —  except for the neckline trim, which is not her fault, as we haven’t gotten around to that part in class yet.

    Linda and Sandy's sweatersBelow is a shot of the front of Linda’s sweater, as well as Sandy‘s.

    Poor Sandy got laughed at a little bit last week, when she turned to me and asked, "How long should I make it?"

    Anyone who’s been knitting with me for about five minutes knows that my answer to that is, "How long do you want it?"

    (And maybe, "How much yarn ya got left?")

    But after we all had a chuckle about it, we concurred as a group that the "top of the pocket" is usually a good length for a "high hip" type of sweater.

    I think it’s OK to take a little bit of liberty in teasing Sandy here, because I think hers is also the best-fitting sweater of the bunch so far.  Not that anyone else’s doesn’t fit — but Sandy has a generous bust, and so has some fitting issues that I, sadly, have personally never dealt with.

    Sandy's bust darts

    And not only did she bravely forge ahead with what I can only call a "guesstimate" for her short-row bust darts — I also think it was a pretty good guesstimate, and it came out rather nicely fitting.  Perhaps, if one were going to be extremely picky,  we could have done a couple more short rows, as evidenced by the very, very slight gathering of the fabric under the arm — but all-in-all, I think it came out absolutely great.  (It’s certainly a vast improvement over what we’d have under that arm if we hadn’t done short rows, I guarantee it.)

    Plus, she also cleverly made the knitting do some of the work:  she made the bottom of her sweater out of wide ribbing, so she didn’t have to muck about with calculating any waist shaping.  Nice fit for little effort gets extra points in my book!

    And of course, major bonus points for the fact that it’s green!  It’s not MOHAIR, though, so I guess I’ll let her keep it for herself…

    Remember, there are three more guinea pigs working diligently on their sweaters, so I better hope to have more pictures to share in the coming weeks!

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    Hippity, Hoppity, Easter’s on Its Way

    And if you need yourself a little Easter Basket, here’s the ticket!mobius basket - side view

    I’ll be teaching this mobius-handled basket at the Knitting Bee in early March.  It goes amazingly quickly, so you’ll have plenty of time to whip up one or more before the holiday.  Among other things, you’ll learn how to do a provisional cast-on — a must in every serious knitter’s repertoire!

    This new sample was knit using 2 colors of Malabrigo, and it felted beautifully.  I think it’s the easiest felting I’ve ever done!  (In teaching the class, I plan to use the rest of the yarn to knit another basket in the opposite color scheme, so we can find out if you can get two baskets out of two skeins.)

    This is a Polar Bear Pattern, and is available at the Knitting Bee.

    2 Saturdays, 3-7 and 3-14-09     1:30–3:30 pm

    mobius basket - top view

    This funky-cute little felted basket uses a mobius strip for the handle and top edge.  I prefer to cast on for a mobius strip with a different method than the one Cat Bordhi uses:  I kind of think my way is better and easier, but maybe you should be the judge.  (Oh, I can also do the Cat Bordhi way if you insist.) 

    Previous experience knitting in the round required.

    Class fee: $35







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    One TWO Successful Guinea Pigs!

    Table of contents for Friday Guinea Pigs: TDVNR Knitalong

    1. I Love My Job!
    2. The Friday Guinea Pigs!
    3. This Is Why It’s Gonna Snow in Portland
    4. One TWO Successful Guinea Pigs!
    5. More Great Guinea Pigs
    6. Short-Row Bust Darts

    The top-down rust raglan that I knit for the Friday Group Class knit-along was finished last Friday (or so I thought).rust raglan

    I picked up around the neckline and knit simple K2, P2 for a polo style collar.  (Turns out that isn’t going to work so well — but more about that in a minute.)

    The moment of truth was now upon me.  As knit, the garment was a little on the tight side.  But according to my swatch, it would grow a bit after washing.

    Unfortunately, I have known swatches that lied… bad, baaaad swatches.

    So over the weekend I washed the sweater, laid it flat to dry, and held my breath.  (Well, not for the whole weekend.)

    And wow!  It fits fantastically!  Just what I was shooting for!

    Except for the problem with the collar, which isn’t long enough to fold over properly in the back.  You can’t see it very well in this back view, but you can see the beginnings of it from the front.

    rust raglan - front view

    rust raglan - back view

    linda's raglanI had an inkling the collar was maybe going to have this issue — but seeing as how there were the bigger fit issues at stake, I decided to do it the easy way first, in an effort to get the sweater washed and see whether the swatch was lying or not.  Now I’m going to have to tear that collar off and do some short rows back there, but hey.  I’m not complaining — not after the way the rest of it came out!

    But even better than my own sweater is this one!  from one of the Magnificent Seven — the seven plucky knitters in the Friday Group who were my knit-along guinea pigs.  Obviously, this one isn’t quite finished yet — but Linda sent me a picture anyway so I could see how nicely it’s coming out!

    WOW!  I am so pleased with her work!  Thanks for the picture, Linda!

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    This Is Why It’s Gonna Snow in Portland

    Table of contents for Friday Guinea Pigs: TDVNR Knitalong

    1. I Love My Job!
    2. The Friday Guinea Pigs!
    3. This Is Why It’s Gonna Snow in Portland
    4. One TWO Successful Guinea Pigs!
    5. More Great Guinea Pigs
    6. Short-Row Bust Darts

    It fits!

    yoke of TDVNR 2008

    Wow, does it fit!

    These may be the very least baggy armholes I have ever knit for myself.

     And — lest you think this is some kind of freak accident that was bound to happen someday if I just kept knitting long enough — looky, it pretty much matches the sweater I was trying to copy.

    sweater comparison



    Attention Guinea Pigs:  this ought to make you feel much, much better.

    (It does me!)




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    The Friday Guinea Pigs!

    As anyone who has been reading lately knows, the Friday Group class regulars decided that they wanted to do a top-down raglan sweater, knit-along style.

    Only thing is, they are all different shapes and sizes — being that they are human beings and all.

    And yet, they still all wanted ones that fit properly.

    Picky, picky.

    Enter moi, with an idea  — always a dangerous thing — for a way to accomplish a proper-fitting raglan for ANY BODY.

    Born of my own issues with my petite-size short armholes — attempted once or twice in the past, but set aside — now, resurrected by a conversation I had in a yarn shop, maybe last summer? with a fellow petite knitter named Valerie — plus the enthusiasm of the Friday girls.

    Or, as I like to call them these days, the Magnificent Seven.

    Here are four of them, plus me, wearing our yokes.  Our yokes that FIT.  Our yokes with raglan seam lines that go right to the corner of Upper Back and Armpit — no more, no less.  No bagging underarms for this crowd!!

    First we have Mary, who has already done one top-down raglan with me, and came back to do this one with the group.

    Here’s Sheryl, who is so tickled at the fit of her yoke!  Or maybe she’s just being tickled by her helpers.  Either way, I hated to crop out her lovely smile.  But after all, it’s the sweater that we’re looking at here.

    Here’s Rock Star.  I have to mention here that Rock Star said something hilarious at the end of last class.  I mean, here we are — for like a month and a half, we’ve all been using different yarns, different gauges, and we all have different bodies with different fit issues — working off the same set of directions, but calculating our own numbers.

    And then RS says something like, "hey, you know, you could use these directions again — just knit another gauge swatch, and redo all the numbers."

    (Of course, this is the same artiste who did a colored pencil drawing of my all-black cat Morgan, and at one point mentioned, "You know, there’s a lot of black on that cat.")

    And here’s her sweater!

    It won’t surprise anyone to know that I’m thinking of trying to steal Sandy‘s.  Such pretty green yarn!!  And just look at that FIT!!

    And here’s mine, with a little bit of sleeve attached, to prove that it’s going to work.  It may look a little tight, but the sweater I’m copying has a very slim-fitting sleeve.  (I like slim-fitting sleeves.)  Also, the gauge expands a bit with blocking, so I’m not too worried.

    Linda is in CA, The Pats got behind ’cause she had the flu, and Leslie is knitting hers for someone else, so we don’t have pics of those yet.  But we will!

    When all is said and successfully done, I will be making the class material into an e-book — ’cause it looks like it’s gonna be good stuff.  So stay tuned!

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    I Love My Job!

    Last Friday was our first top-down sweater knitalong class, and I’m so tickled with my Friday knitters, I just have to tell you.

    I’ve got seven — count ’em, SEVEN — knitters who are going to knit a top-down sweater along with me!!  It will be a project extending over a few months, so watch this space for some pictures of FO’s in about March or so.  (Although we’ll probably get some pics along the way, too, I suspect.)

    Why such a long, drawn-out process?  Well, partly because of those holidays that are coming up, and a 3-week trip that DH and I are going to take in January.  And partly because life happens to the best of us, and I want everyone to have plenty of time to enjoy knitting their sweaters, and not feel like they are under the gun.  Of course, partly so I have plenty of time to babble on about everything I know about making sweaters, with a captive audience forced to listen to me.  And partly because, while I’m not going to name any names, it will drive Sheryl nuts be a good exercise in discipline for some people to start, stick with and finish a sizeable knitting project… 

    Oh, and of course, have it fit properly, too.

    This is going to be SO MUCH FUN, I may not be able to stand it!

    UFO mohairAnother reason Friday was a fun day was because one of our "occasional" Friday knitters sneaked out of work for a bit, and surprised me with a gift of one of her UFO’s.  Well, you know what they say:  one knitter’s forlorn UFO is another knitter’s treasure, or something like that.  And in this case, it’s 100% true.  The original knitter is so done with this bad boy, there’s no question.  But I, on the other hand, am in love.

    There are several reasons I am thrilled with this UFO.  Of course, you will have noticed that it’s MOHAIR.  And not only that, it’s Welcomme "le super mohair" — bonus points for it being French!

    Another is, it’s a fabulously yummy subtle shade of peach.  Just the thing for a redhead.

    But the very best thing about this UFO is that it actually predates my own knitting career!   I learned to knit in 1986; the original owner says the project originated circa 1985.  For some reason, I really love that!

    Of course, I truly did like the 80’s to begin with, and I’m totally all over the whole retro thing.  As I keep threatening saying, in the world of fashion everything comes back around, and the 80’s will be no exception.   In fact, at lunch on Friday, we saw a 20-something girl wearing a denim miniskirt over black leggings, with a bright yellow top and matching yellow high heels!  It was totally early Madonna style, in Cyndi Lauper technicolors.  Except she didn’t have enough jangly jewelry on.  (But she did have a few tats.)

    As I said at the time, "matchy-matchy with the shoes and the clothes — YESSSSS!"  Hey, I was good at matchy-matchy.  I even remember having yellow ballet flats to go with a yellow sweater, although I am pretty sure my yellow was not quite as offensive bright as what I saw on Friday.

    One thing about the 80’s though:  it was the death knell for hand-knitting sweaters.  All those enormously oversized garments took a heckuva lot of yarn and a heckuva lot of time.  Case in point:  the UFO bag appears to contain a total of twelve balls, or more than 1600 yards of yarn, for a single size small sweater.  I am pretty sure I could get two of today’s style sweaters out of it, as long as we aren’t talking gobs of cables or bobbles or something.

    So, get cracking and hand-knit yourself a sweater while it’s still within the realm of possibility!!

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