Tah-Daaah! Gyroscopic Cardigan Pattern…

Thank you for your patience! The Gyroscopic Cardigan pattern has been uploaded to my Ravelry Pattern Store and is now available for sale. I’ll also upload it to my Pattern Store on this site in a week or so.

I appreciate all the comments this design has already generated, including those that mention its generous range of sizes (up to a 56″ bust), and those expressing surprise to discover that a cardi worked in bulky weight yarn can still be so flattering and drapey.

The yarns used for the two samples have different properties. The Queensland Collection Uruguay Chunky (blue version) has a tighter twist. Although the recommended needle size for this yarn is a US #10.5, I worked the project on US #10 needles to achieve the gauge of 4 stitches to the inch. That made all the difference in adding depth and definition to the cable design.

The resulting fabric feels a bit denser and has slightly less drape (but is so soft and cozy that I won’t want to take it off this coming winter) than the yellow version worked in Lana Grossa’s Bingo.

Bingo is a looser ply and although the recommended needle size is smaller (US #9), the gauge on the label is the same 4 stitches to the inch. It has a loftier, lighter feel than the Uruguay Chunky, but shows off the cables equally well.

I’d love to see finished versions of Gyroscopic as readers complete theirs. Enjoy the pattern, and please feel free to share your results!

A Good Rant Is Hard To Find

But before I get all wound up, I’ve got to show you the second version of the Gyroscopic Cardigan, expertly modeled by my photogenic friend, Suzy:

Isn’t the color gorgeous? I adore how it shows off the Gyroscope Cable motif. My test knitter, Glenna, did a fabulous job with all the details.

 

The pattern is with my tech editor now, and should be ready for launch within the next week!

OK, ready for the rant? My daughter was home from college from mid-May to mid-June, during which time we scheduled her a series of personal health “tune-ups” — a cleaning at the dentist, a visit to her primary care doctor about that wonky hip that bothers her when she exercises, and finally an appointment to the optometrist at our local LensCrafters.

I come from a long line of squinty-eyed, glasses-wearing myopics and not surprisingly, my daughter has inherited my less-than-perfect vision. She gets her eyes checked annually, and her vision seems to change every time. What I have noticed about “our” LensCrafters is that it is impossible to get out of there in less than two and a half hours EVER.

Yes, it takes 15 minutes for the pupils to dilate after they put those drops in. I get that. And we’ve learned to schedule our family’s appointments first thing in the morning so they don’t have time to get backed up. That should help, right? Emphatically, that answer is – No.

No, this shop runs consistently behind schedule, EVERY time. This visit, my daughter brought a book and I brought my knitting, so we were prepared to settle in for the usual wait. But my daughter’s appointment time came and went, and half an hour later the optometrist with whom she had her appointment had not even shown up to work.

What is going on here? Does LensCrafters HQ never check on their individual stores to make sure they are being run efficiently? Do they seriously believe it’s ok to leave their customers milling around for hours, listlessly entertaining themselves by trying on one pair of frames after another as the day ticks by? Whatever happened to sticking to the schedule? Why are customers expected to be on time for their appointments, but LensCrafters’ (and many – if not most – doctors as well) employees are not? Do they not get that they are in a service business, and that their customers deserve that service in a timely manner? Is this any way to run a franchise? I could go on and on (and on), but I think I’ve made my point.

As we sat and fumed, I suddenly remembered that a new LensCrafters had opened recently in the next town. I stormed up to the counter, and (politely) demanded of the hapless store manager behind it that our entire family’s records be faxed over to the new store. Further, I stood over the poor guy (after all, it wasn’t his fault that the optometrist hadn’t appeared) while he phoned the other LensCrafters and scheduled an appointment for my daughter ASAP. I made it clear that we would never EVER be back (was that an expression of relief I saw flitter across the manager’s face…?), and that was that. We were outta there.

By the time we arrived at the new LensCrafters fifteen minutes later, they were ready for my daughter’s appointment. Our records were there, her appointment progressed speedily, and we were on our way with her new-prescription contacts in less than an hour. Sometimes taking one’s business down the road is the only answer.

It was so worth it.

Correction to Origami Shrug Pattern in Brave New Knits

**This post has been edited to reflect a further correction from Melissa, which is that Rows 16 and 18 are worked the same.

The Origami Shrug’s designer, Melissa Wehrle, just brought a correction to my attention for this pattern in Brave New Knits. This error was caught so late because, she thinks, most knitters are working from the Lace Chart on page 120, which is correct, rather than from the line-by-line instructions on page 119.

In any case, I’ve posted the correction in the Errata section of this site, and Melissa has added it to the Ravelry project page.

ORIGAMI SHRUG: Page 119:  The written Stitch Pattern instructions should read as follows for these two rows:

Row 16: *K4, yo, k1, yo, k4, sl 1-ssk-psso, rep from * to end.
Row 18: *K4, yo, k1, yo, k4, sl 1-ssk-psso, rep from * to end.

Gyroscopic Dreams

While my lovely test knitter, Glenna, works on a gorgeous, soft, and cheerful sunflower yellow version of the Gyroscopic Cardigan, (with 3/4-length sleeves), I am poring over the pattern.

My goal is to make it as user-friendly as possible, which is why I include not only a chart for the gyroscopic cable motif, but also a line-by-line option for those who prefer to work a pattern in that manner.

As soon as I receive Glenna’s version, off goes the pattern to my tech editor for a final fine-tooth-combing. Because of course, a second and equally important goal is to make my patterns as error-free as possible.

Please stay tuned; the pattern will be available for sale in my Pattern Store and on Ravelry within the next few weeks!

Down For the Count

I had foot surgery today to remove a neuroma that had been causing me lots of pain for over a year. The worst part of the surgery was the anaesthesia injections. My daughter could hear me yelling from out in the waiting room.

And this follows last week’s cortisone injection in my spine for a herniated disc (on the heels of the cortisone injection, one might say).

The good news is that Shadow is keeping an eye on me. Now if only I can train her to refresh my ice pack every couple of hours… and maybe to bring me a little bowl of ice cream once in a while when I’m feeling sorry for myself.

I should be back in action again after a weekend of elevated foot and minimal activity. If I ever needed an excuse to be a couch potato, this is it. It’s never going to get any better than this.

Gyroscopic Cardigan – Pattern Coming Soon!

The Gyroscopic Cardigan is on the blocking board (taking forever to dry, I might add), and I am writing up more notes on the pattern draft for my test knitter.

The pattern should be ready to launch by mid-to late-June. I still need to choose the perfect buttons for this project, which will actually snap closed. I will stitch the buttons to the front of the buttonband, but want the snaps to give extra stability to the weighty fabric that is the result of the heavy worsted weight project yarn.

The vibrant yarn color is most accurate above; the photo below, for some reason, is very washed-out.

The Gyroscopic will be a cozy cardi in which to greet fall; it will even work for chilly summer nights. I know we’re all about the linen, bamboo, and hemp now that summer is upon us, but I always think ahead to fall and my first project for cooler days.

With everything blooming insanely in the garden right now, fall seems far away. But this weird weather we’re having in the Bay area (barely 70 degrees even on the nicest days, and lots of drizzle and overcast skies most of May), makes me glad to know that I will soon have a warm new cardi at the front of my closet.

Ever since I cut loose on Mother’s Day with a huge and colorful bouquet, I’ve been raiding the garden regularly – and uncharacteristically bringing armsful of flowers indoors.

These are a couple of my latest efforts. Sometimes, just a few blooms do the trick.

Gyroscopic Cardi Part II

Making progress on the Gyroscopic Cardigan, having finished the sleeves and back last week, shaping and all… am absolutely loving the way two repeats of the charted motif create a third one up the center.

Here’s another view. The twisted stitches and minimal cable crossings create wonderful texture up the back, undulating from ribbed hem to neckline. The larger sizes will include widely-spaced ribbed borders that frame the central cable motif, adding interest to those side stitches that allow room for the waist and bust shaping.

One of the many things I love about this cable motif is how easily it is memorized. Once you get into the rhythm of the curves, it just flows off the needles.

While my pattern for the cardigan (being test-knit as I write) will include line-by-line directions for the cable motif, written out in meticulous detail for knitters who prefer that format, I am a chart fanatic myself, and find charts so much easier to work from.

Decided to keep the sleeves simple, referring to the widely-spaced ribbed outer swirls of the cable motif as a way to add interest but not let the sleeve design get too busy. Although you won’t hear me say this very often, sometimes the simplest solution is the most elegant.

And set-in sleeves are definitely the way to go with this cardi. The heavy worsted weight yarn creates a fabric that demands the structure of seaming.

Taking advantage of last week’s warmish weather, I was able to knit outside on the terrace quite often and keep up with the evolution of the garden.

Not that I accomplished any weeding (the Gyroscopic Cardi demands my complete attention, of course…) but I could still delude tell myself that I was making mental notes of the work that needs to be done outside, just as soon as there is a break in the knitting. Not that there are many of those.

The bouquet below features four different kinds of roses, as well as calla lilies and their leaves.

Twirling Like a Gyroscope

With so much secret knitting kept necessarily under wraps, it has been quite some time since I last had the opportunity to design a new sweater for yours truly. In fact, it has been a long time since I could blog about anything more exciting than baby caps, of which I have been enamored lately both for their stash-busting properties and for their “instant gratification” factor.

But finally I’ve found a little window, and have thrown myself into the design of this new cardigan. Cardis are my favorite garment, cables are among my favorite stitch textures, and a full bag of this extraordinarily beautiful blue bulky weight yarn (Queensland Collection Uruguay Chunky, a sublimely soft and decadently dense blend of merino wool, alpaca, and silk) has been burning a hole in my stash.

After much tinkering and swatching, I’ve decided upon this combination cable and twist pattern that creates a lovely gyroscopic swirl, hence the name I’ve chosen for the project.

It’s exciting to see the pattern grow, and so far I am thrilled with the way the shaping of the cardigan is evolving. On US Size 10 needles, it’s moving along quite nicely, too; a couple of days of intensive effort as time permits and the front pieces are nearly complete.

Follow along with me; I’ll post updates on the progress as long as it takes.

I quickly realized that the 10 skeins I already had of this yarn were not going to be quite enough to complete the cardi I envision unless I made it with cap sleeves. I’ve ordered a few extra skeins and assuming the dyelots are not a perfect match, will have to alternate skeins as I work the back and sleeves.

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

On this day of all days, I felt entitled to go outside early this morning and raid the garden…

Although I usually enjoy the roses ON the bush and seldom bring any into the house, today I picked myself a whopping armful of the most spectacular, wildly fragrant roses from every bush in the garden…

and arranged them into the most colorful, exuberant bouquet I could assemble, in my favorite antique etched glass vase.

Only my daughter’s phone call this morning to wish me a happy day (she’ll be home from college at the end of next week) gave me more pleasure than this riot of gorgeous blooms.

And to focus for just a moment on knitting (oh, yeah, this IS supposed to be a knitting blog, isn’t it?), I whipped up another sweet little baby cap during my plane ride home from NY on Friday. Blues, lavenders, and greens for this one, for which I used another skein of Koigu Kersti from my stash. Now to attend to the creation of a few crocheted flowers so it will have the proper embellishment for someone’s new babe…

Thoughts on Trunk Shows

Tuesday evening’s Brave New Knits signing and trunk show at Katonah Yarn in New York was great fun, and everybody enjoyed seeing the book’s projects “in person,” commenting (not surprisingly) that they look even better in real life than they do in the book’s pages.

Katonah Yarn has all the best qualities of a wonderful yarn shop: it is bright, spacious yet cozy, full of beautiful yarns temptingly displayed, and staffed by a pair of lovely women who smilingly offer assistance to one and all. Jennifer, Rae, and staffer Dani made me feel very welcome at their regular weekly “knit night,” when they stay open late and a group of knitters works on their projects, chatting all the while.

Some customers tried on every single project, and found that even the ones they’d been iffy about looked great on them.

The shop’s apple green wall color was practically a match to the Sundara Silk Sport I used to make my Orchid Thief Shawlette from the book, and Rae’s version in a gorgeous worsted weight merlot colored wool was in beautiful contrast.

(Owner Jennifer, me, Dani, and owner Rae)

A fantastic surprise was seeing my high school friend, Joanne, with whom I reconnected on Facebook last year. She lives in the area, and although she is (sadly) not a knitter herself, she attended the signing with a knitter friend.

OK, not to be a scold, but I’m going to get up on my soapbox for a minute here to share my thoughts about something that happened at the event. A young woman came into the shop and tried on all the projects from the book. Then she began surreptitiously photographing all of them, as well as the labels that identified the yarns used for each. Simultaneously, she was on her phone with a knitter friend who had not been able to join her. The owner eventually asked her to stop photographing the projects, and she did.

This woman spent the rest of the evening at the shop, making a dinner out of the lovely refreshments that the Katonah Yarn owners had been kind enough to provide for the event, and chatting with the other knitters. When she finally departed, she did not purchase a copy of the book, or as much as a single skein of yarn, or any notions.

For all I know, she had already bought Brave New Knits on Amazon or from another retailer. Or perhaps after all the effort of sneaking photos of the projects and their details, she decided she didn’t like them enough to make some herself after all. Sometimes one has to look through a book at length and see the garments up close to make that decision. Maybe she couldn’t afford to add another knitting book to her personal library. Or maybe she had taken enough photos of the pertinent details to be able to reproduce the projects she liked the best without the benefit of the actual patterns. Who knows?

I just wonder what was going through her head. Though I would like to give her the benefit of the doubt, her behavior seemed clueless at best, and unconscionably rude at worst. The owners were upset that this “customer” seemed to think it was appropriate to photograph the book’s projects. They never mentioned the fact that she did not ultimately purchase a copy; it was my observation. And there’s no law saying she had to make the purchase. Fortunately, several customers did buy the book as well as yarn to make their first projects from it.

Jennifer and Rae are small business owners; they have kept Katonah Yarn open for five years, which means they survived the worst of the economic downturn in 2008-9. They are established in their community, and as I said earlier, you couldn’t ask for a nicer LYS. It upset me on their behalf that this young woman would think it was okay to spend the evening at their shop, eat their food, try on all the projects from Brave New Knits, take numerous pictures of them, and then not buy a copy.

Where I come from, we have a name for people like this: a Schnorrer, which is someone who takes advantage of the generosity of others; a parasite. Perhaps this woman was simply in the market for an evening of free entertainment, and she certainly made the most of it. But I don’t like what her actions say about her lack of respect for Jennifer and Rae and their efforts to keep their business running and successful. What do you think?

Future Food

Just before leaving home, I planted the vegetable garden. My back may never forgive me.

Now that the weather has finally turned the corner (high 70’s all day today), those seedlings will actually get enough heat and sunlight to grow. I planted three different varieties of peppers,

eight different kinds of tomatoes (three of which are cherry tomatoes) and two different squashes.

The big clump above is a mash-up of beet greens and chard that wintered over and self-seeded.

Four sweet basil plants from Trader Joe’s, which always has them this time of year. Bright marigolds, companion planted near the tomatoes to keep insects at bay. Two different varieties of lettuce.

And finally, three different kinds of cucumbers. After all these years of trial and error, I realized that once we have picked the green beans a few times, everybody gets sick of them and the rest get huge and woody – and remain uneaten, so it made no sense to plant them again.

Can’t wait to start picking – though the harvest is at least 8 weeks away.

Happy May Day!

Here is a bouquet of Joseph’s Coat roses…

and fluttering white irises…

… a little visual feast while I’m off-duty this week.

I’ll be back soon!

Garrrden Grrrl

While I’m away from home this week checking in with my parents and doing a Brave New Knits signing at Katonah Yarn Co., I thought I’d share some of what is blooming in the garden.

It is definitely iris season, and they are spectacular this year.

It took a solid 2-3 years for them to begin spreading, but they are well entrenched by now and each spring the display is better.

Gardening has taught me patience much as knitting has – it takes as much time to get the various elements just right, from color placement and composition, to the texture of the leaves and flowers themselves. The delicacy of irises never fails to captivate me.

And all of these varieties are incredibly fragrant; they are the plant version of the perfume counter at my favorite department store, only I never experience the sensory overload that happens pretty quickly when I’m sniffing perfumes. It has become a pleasure to sit outside with my knitting when it’s warm enough, waiting for the various fragrances to waft around me whenever the breeze picks up. Truly a little bit of heaven.

Upcoming Brave New Knits Event at Katonah Yarn Co.

On Tuesday, May 3rd from 6 – 8 pm, I will be visiting Katonah Yarn Co. during their weekly knit night, to sign copies of Brave New Knits and to share all the wonderful projects from the book with a complete trunk show.

If you’re in the area and have been having a hard time deciding which project to make first, this is your chance to see the projects in person and choose your favorites. Shop owners Jennifer and Rae will help you select the perfect yarn.

Katonah is not far from where I grew up, and I am so excited to be able to spend an evening with a great group of knitters from my old stomping ground! Katonah Yarn Co. is located at 120 Bedford Road, Katonah, NY. See you there!

Introducing More Knitting In The Sun

Designer Kristi Porter’s brand-new sequel to her Knitting In the Sun is all about warm-weather knitted clothes for children. And I am honored to have a project included in it: the Matilda Tunic.

The projects are whimsical and fetching in all the ways that appeal most to the kids who wear our knits: colorful, comfortable, and loaded with cute details. For us knitters, they are also sized across a generous range and made of (mostly) easy-care fibers.

Here is my Matilda Tunic, modeled by a child who – with her blonde hair and red glasses – is a dead-ringer for me as a child (according to my husband). Only, I have to say that this child model is much cuter than I ever was…

…though no less inclined to mug for the camera, as you can see.

My tunic (made in the requested sample size 6) was a snap to work up with 5 skeins of KFI’s Sublime Bamboo and Pearls DK, even though it is knit on relatively small US Size 5 needles. I had such fun working out the details of the side panels, which give the tunic its flare.  And that sweatshirt pocket – what kid doesn’t love a pocket for stashing treasures collected over the course of an average day?

This project can definitely be made longer and worn as a jumper over a tee shirt, or as a sleeveless dress on a really hot day.

There are lots of other projects in More Knitting In the Sun that I’d love to make, and I’ll share some of those in my next post.