Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Beginning knitting

I post on facebook and instagram about my knitting which led to some friends thinking that they would like to give this handwork a try. So I put together just a small guide of where I might go if I wanted to learn today. First up goes without saying, if you have a local yarn store that gives beginning classes this may be your best bet. Nothing like someone sitting beside you as you get comfortable with those two sticks and yarn.

So to those who asked and anyone who is considering trying their hand at knitting....There are paid courses on bluprint but first I think you need to know if you enjoy it at all. I think very pink knits does a great job with her slow motion videos. You can find the list here

If you do embrace it and want to learn everything, I recommend Patty Lyons as a great technical knitter. I think the Sally Melville videos also do a good job. Both designers are technically very good but both have styles a little less eclectic than I might want to knit. Having said that Patty Lyons does two sweater KAL's (knit alongs)a year with video assists for every step of the construction. If you want to explore further she has a lot to offer in the learning department.

I also think that Debbie Bliss's The Knitters Book of Knowledge is a comprehensive reference book and the illustrations are large and very easy to understand.

For starting I would pick a worsted weight wool like a malabrigo on size 7 or 8 needles. A great scarf with lot's of texture which requires only the knit stitch (you can and should learn purl, but this is a good starting scarf) can be found at Purl soho

This would look great in one of the tonal malabrigo yarns. If you don't have a local yarn store Malabrigo can be purchased on Webs or Jimmy Beans

For needles, my current favorite are Lykke, but there are many to choose from. For this scarf I would use a 24 inch cable circular. You can knit flat on circulars and they can be easier to manage (no dropped needles) and on larger pieces they keep the weight of the piece off your hands.

If I had to learn today I would start out trying to learn the continental way, sometimes referred to as picking, german or European knitting. You manage your working thread with your left hand. It is thought to be faster. (The very pink knits videos show both ways, alt hough I hold my yarn opposite to how she is showing it for wrapping. Every person needs to work out the best way for them. It will get natural over time.

I work by what is called English, throwing or wrapping the yarn with my right hand. I've tried continental and can reliably knit that way but I can't adjust to the purl stitch after 50 years of knitting my way. Interestingly, without the benefit of the internet or the advantage of any knitting friends, I never knew there was another way until one time I saw my mother in law knitting socks. She was of German descent and knit continental. I couldn't fathom what she was doing!

You might also try watching a few Vlog's (video blogs) on you tube for inspiration about what you may want to knit. A few of my favorites are the Grocery Girls, The Chelsea Purls, Espace Tricot, Kristy Glass Knits. GGMadeit and Fruity Knitting. They all have different styles but they all present a plethora of knitty goodness. Kristy Glass and Fruity knitting tend to interview other knitters. The Grocery Girls are two Canadian sisters who design and are plain fun. The Chelsesa Purls are a yarn store owner in New Jersey who dyes yarn and her friend in knitting, Miriam. The Fruity Knitting vlog is hosted by a married couple. Wife Andrea is a very technically competent knitter and she also interviews a lot of guest artists so you get a wide smattering of knitting styles. Espace Tricot are business partners in the Canadian store by the same name and are a treat to watch. GGmadeit loves all things orange and has many words of wisdom to impart plus her enthusiasm is contagious. There are many many more, not all good, but you may discover some that speak best to you.

If you are not already a member sign up for Ravelry. The amount of information here is incredible. You can search on and buy patterns, you can browse and add patterns to your queue to review later, you can join groups inline with your interests, you can explore how many knitters have made a project your interested in and see photo results in different yarns on different body types.

I hope that you will give knitting a try and find comfort in the relaxation it brings (eventually!) and are happy with the many beautiful things you can make.

Monday, January 20, 2020

NYC and Vogue Knitting Live

I had a great few days in NYC as I always do.

In between a Patty Lyon class and a Steven B lecture I met with my friend Edgar Lopez for a great visit. We of course talked beads as that is our connection. Edgar was one of the amazing bead artists featured in my third book, Marcia DeCoster Presents. Edgar's work is always bold, colorful and sparkly!

Here I am in a Kristy Glass selfie after the Subway storm ride. What is a subway storm? A huge gathering of knitters met at the Times Square subway station and rode the train to south ferry and back while wearing their finest knitwear and knitting. Kristy posted this on her instagram stories but I missed it, thanks to a friend for the screen capture. Later in the day I saw Kristy at the VKL marketplace and I gave her the crown. Completely her color and she loved it, so now it’s hers!

In the hopes of staying focused I had a plan to purchase beautiful yarn for one project, Esjan by Steven West. Mine will be in different colors, I bought a gradient set which I’ll show you when I get home and have the real computer. I am still stymied by the fact my photo stream does not show up in Blogg, so it’s complicated.

Since Mark is with me and I didn’t want to spend every minute at the knitting show, well I did but that wasn’t really fair...this is a shot from our trip to MOMA. There was a temporary exhibition called taking a thread for a walk.


That’s it for now. Today we travel home. I have lots of knitting to keep me company in the airport and in the air. 

Tomorrow I will take the fabulous new eyeglass frames I purchased in NYC to my local optician. Stay tuned, they are bright and so fun!

Monday, January 13, 2020


Since I’m traveling this week I thought I’d give the new iPad blogger tool a little trial. Picking a photo from my iPad which does not synch with my phone photos so that to begin with is a little awkward....

New makes and a maker's plans

I finished up last year with a shawl for my daughter Lucia which was knitted entirely while on a South American cruise.  It was gifted over Christmas and I didn't take a photo....

While on the same cruise I finished this, a bead embroidered pendant which I will teach later on this year.

Turns out there is a lot of time on a cruise so I also made these bone baby earrings designed and kitted by Kinga Nichols.  They are very fun to wear.

 This is my finished Fintry in Malabrigo Rios, color ochre.  A departure for me but I love it.

A close up of the Fintry lace parttern.

 I finished up this hat in November for December gifting.  The yarn was a left over unique sheep gradient and the pompom snaps on so there is also a white one.  This little one really appreciates a hand knit.  Pattern was found on ravelry, but the only similarity to the pattern I chose was the cast on and rib sequence and even those I changed.  I did an every 6th row cable to add interest, and changed the depth before decreases from 9 to 6 1/2 inches.  It fit perfectly!   She even stealthily tucked the spare pompom underneath for a quick change!

 This was a knitters gift from our son the perfect on the go knitting bag!  I love it, it's very very comfortable.  Easy to pull out a sock and work on it wherever.  The bag came from Uncommon Goods.

 This knit happened in January... Purl Sohos no purl scarf, a free pattern on their website.  The rib pattern is outstanding and it was a fun, very meditative knit.  My poor husband was desperate (cold enough) to wear my pink and green Stephen West Smock It shawl one night in San Francisco.  I decided before NYC in January he should have his own scarf.  This was 100% cashmere that I found in my stash.  It was not a very well plied or particularly soft cashemere and I have no idea why I had it, but the color was perfect and he reports it to be warm and comfortable, so that's good.

Becasue I am always dreaming of snow I decided to make a second Cindy Holsclaw Bead Origami snowflake.  This one is reversible with blue on one side and dusty coral on the other.  I'll be wearing them this week in New York City hoping that I get to see snow!

One last make, this one from the kitchen.  My mother was a good cook and every year she made fruit bread with citon and raisins and in her version, red and green dried maraschino cherries (I waited too far past Christmas and they were not to be found.)  I had her recipe and had tried it before, but it literally just has the ingredients and the oven temperature, no directions at all.  But I have a new little helper in my kitchen, a Thermomix and I decided to give it a go.  I had been successful with pita bread and pizza dough, so why not.  Well this is as close to my Mom's as I've ever accomplished, so I'm calling it a success.  Next year I'll get all the right fruit and try again.  The secret ingredient is cardamon seed.  Makes the house smell heavenly and makes me just a bit nostalgic for my New England childhood.

Yesterday I cast on Volition which is a knit along sweater class from Patty Lyon that started in September.  I had too many other things on the agenda to get properly started then, so yesterday I decided to get it cast on.  It's a very interesting construction with lot's of new to me techniques.  There is video support of each technique and construction tips and I've downloaded them all to my  you tube for watching on the plane this week.  

The very exciting thing is that we are traveling to Vogue Knitting live in NYC.   I went to the first one ten years ago!  I'm a tad overwhelmed as I've been watching knitting vlogs and paging through Stephen West's latest shawl book and I am not entirely sure what special thing I want to make next.  I'm trying to sit quietly with the various designs that are calling me so I can make a decision and make one purchase of special  yarn to make one special design.  So far the word that keeps coming up for me is color.  I would like to do something with some bold color work.  I suspect that is a  Stephen West influence, but also the Kristy  Glass interview with the inventor of the Freia gradient.   I've also been thinking about technique and the Fruity Knitting interview with Nancy Marchant and her Brioche lace.  A lot to think about it!  What are you knitting?