Thursday, April 24, 2008

Book Report - Shear Spirit

I've just read a book I'd like to share with you, Shear Spirit Ten Fiber Farms, Twenty Patterns and Miles of Yarn by Joan Tapper , Photos by Gale Zucker.
Shear Spirit Book

I couldn't put this book down between the gorgeous photos and the personal stories of each farm I read the entire thing in one weekend. The book was Photographer Gale Zucker's idea and she recruited Joan Tapper (former editor of National Geographic Traveler) to write the stories. This pair visited ten fiber farms across the United States, told each farm's stories in words and pictures; most farms submitted several patterns. Although not the book's purpose I loved the pictures of all the dogs.

Most of the people in the book fell in love with their animals or land and then had to figure out how to earn a living. All tell a similar story of long hours and years of tenacity to achieve their dreams. There is a small amount of glorifying a farmers/shepard's life but for the most part they do describe all the effort needed on a daily basis.

The patterns on the whole are new to me. A good felted bag pattern that shows how to felt fiber into a bag - not a knit pattern. A heavy double knit Snowboarder Sweater from handspun bulky Churro yarn is the first double knit pattern I've seen that I might make. I've already picked out yarn for the Welsh Traveling Socks. Only down side I can mention is that there isn't much size range in the patterns but then I didn't buy Shear Spirit for the patterns.

If it has ever crossed your mind to chuck-it-all and move to a farm and raise sheep you should read this book first. You'll learn about the good, not-so-good and the bad pitfalls that would be waiting for you on the farm.

The author's have an interesting blog you might like to check out,
their latest entry: Never wear clogs when you're photographing a Yak in the Spring!
You can also find photos of the patterns here.

(seems like I should state I bought this book myself - no free publisher's copy here)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

ZigBagZ - my attempt at stranded knitting

I entertained myself for several hours on Ravelry just looking at what people had made with Noro Yarns. That's where I found the ZigBagZ pattern (Ravelry Link). I've only attempted one other stranded pattern with limited success. The hat was wearable but knit so loosely and was such a pain to knit with all the untangling of yarn. It's taken me a year to try it again.

This time around I forced myself to learn to knit continental so I could knit two handed. Took me most of the weekend but I got enough confidence to start the Zbag.

ZigBagZ Bottom
This is the checkerboard bottom of the bag.

And a look at the inside of the bottom
ZigBagZ bottom stranding

Then the zigzag pattern on the side
ZigBagZ side

It seems like I'm ripping back half of my knitting to correct pattern mistakes. You'd think I could count to two - Knit 2 with color A, Knit 2 with color B. Seems easy enough but every row I seem to throw in a Knit 4 with one color or another. I get so mad at myself.

Other than my problem counting to two I'm really enjoying this knitting.

ZigBagZ yarn selection

I'm using Noro Kureyon color 213A for the contrast and it's fun to watch as the colors change. The Main fuchsia color is Cascade 220 color 9470 and the dark blue/purple is 220 (and I can't tell you the color as I can't find the ballband)

Yarn Harlot had a link to Shelly Kang that completed a large afghan with sockyarn. Seemed worth noting since it's all mitered squares and this is the project that inspired me to try out mitered squares from sockyarn. She's finished and it way bigger than anything I'll ever make!

April 5th The Photographer and I visited Balboa Park's International Houses for the Tartan Days celebration. Lots of music and kilts!
Tartan Days San Diego

Wish I'd brought my camera as there were lots of hand-knit, knee-high socks around.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


Wow, Blogger is telling me this is my 100th Blog post. Wish I had something momentous to say but it's knitting as usual around here.

It took several tries but I figured out an edging for the cotton baby Kimono from Mason Dixon Knitting. (see February 29th post)
Cotton Baby Kimono

I-cord just wasn't working, it was just too heavy. Crochet was the answer; Crochet Edging Kimono

an edging of single crochet in a variegated color made such a smooth even finish and tamed the roll.

My Cherry Tree Hill socks are finished but I'll wait to block them before their documentation shot. I was given a skein of a new cotton sock yarn to test drive, it's Saucon Sock by Kraemer Yarns. (44% cotton, 43% acrylic, 13% nylon). Younger Daughter is allergic to anything wool so she will get the wear and comfort test.
cotton socks

Cotton sock yarn has a history of getting baggy very quickly so doing a 6/3 rib for the body of the sock I'm hoping will help maintain elasticity through the day. That acrylic part of the yarn has made it a nice yarn to work with, not at all stringy like most cotton yarns without any wool component. I'll report back on the wear test.

As you can see in the picture I'm knitting these socks with two circs. When the 2 circ method first came out I tried it with 16" needles and hated it. Seemed very awkward! Come forward several years and I was working through Cat Bordhi's New Pathways for Sock Knitters; the only circs the right size available were a 24" and a 32". Longer circulars have longer needles than the short needles attached to 16" circular needles!! (a real smack-yourself-in-the-forehead moment) I've been knitting all my socks on two 24" circs ever since.

So now I have an opinion on circular needle tips.
needle tips

All the needle tips above are 24" fixed circulars:
Top is an Addi Turbo Lace
Middle is a Knit Picks Harmony Wood
Bottom is a Knit Picks Option

I like all three needles, all have nice tips and good joins to the cable and have the same length needle but I have a favorite. The Addi Turbo Lace is just nicer to use; it does have the sharpest point of the three. I'm not sure exactly why I like it best, the sharp point is nice but that's not all of it. Seems like the needles are a bit flexible (or is that just my dillusion) where the other two are rigid. I'll have to observe this needle for awhile longer. I wish Skacel would make these needles available in more sizes.