A few years ago my wonderful husband gave me an exquisite nostepinne. Ever since, I have been trying to work out how best to use it. I think I have figured it out. I read about it and watched youtube tutorials but it really was trial and error that led to my success.
I know you are supposed to be able to use a film canister or a wooden spoon, but I couldn't figure them out and anyway this nostepinne is a work of art. (And it matches my rocking chair!)
So everyone's on the same page, I'll start by saying yarn often comes not in balls, but in skeins like this one.
In order to wind the skein into a ball or cake, the first step is to stretch it out. Some people have handy collapsible umbrella swifts, some people just turn a chair upside down on a table and stretch it out over the four legs. I have an Amish adjustable swift--another gift from Hubby. The advantage of a swift over a chair is that the swift turns as you wind. I tried using the back of a swiveling counter stool, but it just wasn't as good.
Once the skein is stretched out, I wind the yarn around the handle of the nostepinne, then several times around the shaft. For a nice flat cake, I started with 2"/5cm for a 50g, 100m skein. A skein with more yardage or more weight might need a longer initial winding.
Then I wind the yarn in a criss-cross pattern. I have seen both criss-cross and single direction windings recommended. The way that works best for me uses both.
After I build up some bulk with the criss-crossing I switch to single direction winding. How do I know when to switch? Well, eventually the crissing starts falling off the tidy little bundle of yarn and that's when I restrict myself to crossing.
I continue with single-direction winding until I have a lovely center-pull cake like the one at the top of this post. I also know how to wind the yarn into adorable round center-pull balls and elegant center-pull eggs. And if I'm using a slithery yarn like linen I don't have to pull from the center. It's just nice to have the option.
I enjoy winding my yarn by hand because it allows me time to get to know the yarn. Knots make themselves known, and color repeat patterns reveal themselves. When I have a deadline coming up, nine 250yd skeins can be daunting, but winding them allows me time to mull over aspects of the design or just take a break from knitting and computering.
It's all good.
I had an interesting experience buying yarn online recently. I was looking for a self-striping yarn in red and shades of gray from light to black. I found Wisdom Saki Silk and ordered it in color Big Volcano. Little did I know, it was not only self-striping but self-patterning.
This is in some ways better for the project I have in mind (which must remain top secret for now) but I could have easily seen this on the Universal Yarn website. To be fair, I was in a real hurry, but it doesn't take that long to be sure what comes is what's expected. Luckily, in this case it was a serendipitous mistake.
Circular Knitting Workshop by Margaret Radcliffe, photography by John Polak, pub. Storey Publishing, 2012.
This book is astoundingly thorough. I started looking at it, thinking it would be a quick review. Months later I am only half way through.
There are two main sections, Circular Knitting Techniques and Workshop Projects. I guessed the major portion of material would be in the Techniques section, leaving very little to review in the Projects section.
Ha! Ha ha! Ha ha ha!
The projects progress from simple scarves to steeked sweaters, and get this: they come with sidebars explaining how to customize for size or gauge, how to work variations, how to measure gauge in ribbing, how to work a top-down piece from the bottom up or a center-out piece from the outside in, and on and on. Radcliffe's instructional style is direct and generally unbiased. She doesn't assume any particular base of knowledge, but never condescends, even when reviewing something covered earlier.
But let's focus on the half of the book I actually read.
After a short and informative introduction, Radcliffe spends over 20 pages discussing casting on. Helpful photos accompany the clearly worded text.
She covers the various types of needles used in circular knitting; joining without twisting; cast-on problems; basic, stretchy, closed center, and closed straight cast ons; two versions of hem; and casting onto work in progress.
When discussing doubling the stitches of a straight-line cast on in preparation for knitting in the round, she neglects to mention the "k1, sl 1 to another needle" method of continuing after the row of kfbs. She slips all the stitches off the needle, divides them into fronts and backs, then slips all the fronts onto one needle and all the backs onto another. She mentions ways of making this less scary, but I think I'll stick to knitting and slipping.
Then she discusses how to work with each type of needle introduced in Chapter 1, including how to swatch. There follows over 20 pages on finishing techniques. Last in this section is a wonderful chapter on converting flat to circular covering knitting from charts, special issues with pattern stitches, disguising the jog, and converting garment instructions. All very useful information, well organized and laid out.
One issue on which she and I disagree is the issue of fit. She lists it as a reason to knit flat, saying tailored garments "can be made circularly, but they require short-row shaping." This is not true, as anyone who has worked Barbara Walker's simultaneous set-in sleeve (using increases) or SusieM's contiguous method can verify. In fact, working circularly enables the knitter to work the entire garment in one piece, making it easier to try on and fit.
But that's a small issue in the context of an invaluable book. I recommend it heartily for anyone wanting an introduction to circular knitting or an intellectual, systematic approach. I recommend it for designers interested in the whys of one way versus another. It is also exemplary reading for anyone (not just knitters) looking to write instructional text. Thank you, Margaret Radcliffe!
Disclosure: Kangath reviewed a copy of Circular Knitting Workshop from her library. Kangath was not compensated for the preceding review. All opinions expressed in the review are the blog author's and are not necessarily the opinions of Storey Publishing or Margaret Radcliffe.
Here's the spider I crocheted this week. Unfortunately, it's difficult to appreciate just how cute it is in the photograph.
I found binding the pipe cleaner legs with yarn a little tricky. I left some yarn trailing out of the spinneret so my son could dangle it for a photo. Maybe we'll hang it on the Christmas tree!
My sister-in-law and her husband recently returned from a vacation in France. When Beth passed a yarn store, she thought of me. On the way back she didn't pass it, but went inside. And bought some yarn! For me!!!
I am impressed by the thoughtfulness of the act, and by the yarn itself. It's very soft, beautifully colored, and enough to make something nice. I just have to decide what. . . .
75 Birds, Butterflies, & little beasts to knit and crochet by Lesley Stanfield, pub. St. Martin's Griffin, 2011.
This charming book is mainly a pattern book, with some tips at the beginning and project ideas at the back. The tips are wise but simply put, and the project ideas are clever and adorable. But the heart of the book is the varied collection of animals and their habitats.
The knit patterns are separated from the crochet pieces. Many of the crochet patterns are accompanied by delightful charts. I have not worked much in crochet, but I chose a simple pattern and had no problem working it from the chart. I'm looking forward to the more challenging pieces!
The assorted creatures are arranged in tableaux by category (Spring Things, Hedgerow Flowers, Leaf Fall, Bugs and Beasties, Butterflies, Rock Pool, Fruit Bowl, Vegetable Basket, Woodland Walk, and Midwinter) and include some very creative choices.
Diagrams are offered for precise direction as to leg or wing placement, and templates are given when necessary. Stanfield addresses all the details before we think to ask.
I recommend this book for anyone in need of a quick project, anyone who wants to hone embellishing skills, anyone in need of a cute fix, or anyone who has been saying for ages that she (me) should learn to crochet. Need I say more?
Disclosure: St. Martin's Griffin sent Kangath a free copy of 75 Birds, Butterflies, & little beasts to knit and crochet for review. Kangath was not compensated for the preceding review. All opinions expressed in the review are the blog author's and are not necessarily the opinions of Lesley Stanfield or St. Martin's Griffin.
I was a little nervous about taking this road trip to North Carolina, never having traveled on a gluten-free diet. But it was no problem at all!
We packed a lunch to eat on the way to Charlotte, and once there we were pleased to find a variety of restaurants with gluten-free options.
Our first stop was the Flying Biscuit Cafe, where we started with fried green tomatoes (coated with cornmeal, not flour) with goat cheese and a sweet cashew-jalapeno relish. I have never been able to manage fried green tomatoes in my kitchen, despite a plethora of helpful hints from well-meaning friends. These were crispy on the outside, and the tomatoes melted in my mouth, but I'm not sorry I can't make them myself---they're not especially stunning. The relish was a delightful surprise, however, providing just the right complement to the tomatoes. For my main course I chose black bean cakes with tomatillo salsa and tomato-basil "stoup" (a cross between stew and soup). Both were delicious.
Next I visited Mexicasa for lunch with a yarn company representative. There I had some wonderful roasted vegetable street tacos topped with generous amounts of cilantro. Very tasty!
For dinner that evening we chose Toast Cafe, based on the lunch menu we had seen earlier that day. The dinner menu was very different, but after grilling the earnest wait staff, we managed to order a delicious dinner. I got a cup of thick roasted vegetable soup and a large plate of spinach and fruit salad. My gluten tolerant companions had the ravioli and loved it. Every one of the servers was friendly and happy to help. I wasn't surprised to see the slogan on their website, "where every server is your server."
We went back to Toast for breakfast the next morning. It was that good. I ordered the gluten-free pancakes (which looked fluffy but were actually quite dense---tasty, though!) and hashbrowns (chunks of potato well-seasoned and cooked until soft but not dry).
Unfortunately, that left me very little room for the Indian buffet at Spice Cafe. They plied us with complimentary mango lassi and dosa (the latter regrettably not gluten free) and I enjoyed delicious vegetable biryani, aloo mutter, and dal with honeydew melon for dessert.
Charlotte is a great place to eat for the gluten-intolerant. As long as you know what to order, the assortment of ethnic and American restaurants makes it easy to find something for every taste.
We passed many peach orchards and produce stands on the way to Davidson NC. We stopped at one of them and bought a peck of peaches and a jug of peach cider.
We also bought some cherry jam for my sister-in-law and some strawberry jam for ourselves. Beth shared the cherry jam with us and everyone loved it, so we're looking forward to trying the strawberry.
The funny thing was, Beth had bought some orange marmalade for my husband at their farmer's market. They went through this whole routine ("I'll see your cherry jam and raise you an orange marmalade") of competitive gift-giving. Siblings!
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