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2007 June Knitting Cruise!

Hi! I just got back from another great knitting cruise! It was fabulous.... we had so much fun! Here are some pictures for your amusement :

Rockland Harbor in the morning before we left

Amy knits socks :)


American Eagle sets out.

We pass the Rockland Breakwater Light and set out for some knitting and sailing!

Shawn runs up the signal flags: "Knit Wit"

Sailing past the Spark Plug.

Nemo goes along for the ride (but he can't knit).

We ran up the Jolly Roger so we could attack an approaching cruise ship ;)

The cruise ship we shot our cannon at.

Hell's Half Acre island where we had our lobsterbake. It's all granite, no sand!

These rocks on Hell's Half Acre are amazing...

Shawn and George escort the crustaceans to the pot.

The lobsters emerged all red and yummy!


Making S'mores! mmmmm

After s'mores... fun with hula hoops!

Penobscot Bay, home of the best sunsets in the world.....

In the Meantime...

While I was finishing my Diamond Patch Sweater, I did have a couple other things going on. For one thing, Victoria and I went to Columbus, Ohio to the TNNA Needlearts Market. It was fun! We had a pretty easy trip, flew on JetBlue, which I never had done before. I love JetBlue; it was great to be able to listen to XM radio (although I noticed most people enjoyed watching television more).

There were a lot of exhibitors at the show and I think we saw each of them twice. Well... the knitting exhibits, anyway. Half of the booths were for needlework, like cross stitch and needlepoint, so we kinda blew right by them. Although, I will say, I really wish I knew how to do that stuff, and had the patience for it. Some of the items were really beautiful. Unfortunately I am too impractical to do needlework. I am not much for hanging things on walls, so working for 200 hours to make flat art doesn't appeal to me that much. (Sorry, to all the needleworkers out there.... it just isn't my thing.) It sure is beautiful, though!

I didn't really see too much of a trend at this year's show. Even though it is the "Summer Show", the exhibitors show fall and winter items at this show. I would say the hot fiber was alpaca... it seemed like everything had alpaca in it. I love alpaca! But we already have a lot of alpaca in the store. There were also a lot of shawl pins, beautiful shawl pins. I thought about ordering some that were magnetic, but passed on them.

We looked hard at a couple of Classic Elite yarns... one is an alpaca sock yarn, and another is a really wonderful 100% not-superwash wool that comes in amazing colors. Pam Allen, Classic Elite's new creative consultant, was in the booth and it was nice to see her again! She had designed a gorgeous sweater from this new yarn. The yarn reminds me a little of Jo Sharp's wool dk yarn, but the Classic Elite version is about $2 cheaper per skein and comes in better colors, in my opinion. We did look at the Jo Sharp yarn.. but I just couldn't do it. Too expensive, and there are about 10 kinds of Jo Sharp yarn now... and her pattern books include designs for many of the Jo Sharp yarns. That's fine, if you carry 10 kinds of Jo Sharp yarn. I didn't think my customers would want to buy those pattern books only to get one or two patterns that they could buy the Jo Sharp yarn for locally. Also the sales person mentioned the Jo Sharp wool dk yarn wasn't a really hot seller in the Jo Sharp line, so we decided to keep looking. I wanted a good, basic, high-quality 100% wool, dk weight, non-superwash yarn that came in a great selection of colors. Classic Elite has one of the best color pallettes in the industry, as far as I am concerned. Throw in the fact that Pam Allen particularly loves this yarn and will probably come up with some amazing designs for it...yup. I didn't order it at the show... but my Classic Elite sales rep will be visiting us soon, and I can order it then. I will be looking for a late summer, or early fall ship date on it. I believe the yarn is called Classic Elite 150 (it has 150 yards/skein).

We ordered some fabulous Morehouse Merino knitting kits. There are some really cute, whimsical scarves, and some very fashionable scarves and shawl kits. We also ordered a really neat wool/hemp blend yarn from LanaKnits. I think it's called Wool Hemp. Or, Hemp Wool. Can you tell I am blogging with no notes? heh heh. I will have to go look through my orders from the show before I go on, I think.

Victoria and I took classes at the show, of course! Victoria took the Sally Melville class on creativity that I took last year, and I think she really liked it! She also took a class on short-row shaping, but I kinda got the impression she already knew most of the material. I took only one class, Portuguese Knitting, from Andrea Wong. It was great! When I was in college I had a friend who was from Colombia and she knit in a very different way from anyone else I had ever seen. I kept trying to figure out how she did it... she had the yarn around her neck and she made the stitches with her left thumb. She could purl about 5 times faster than she could knit. I tried to figure out how she did it, but I never could. But now, I have finally learned! The technique is fascinating, and it is a totally different way of knitting and purling than anything I knew previously. I am not that fast at the technique, but like with anything, with practice, I think it could be a pretty speedy way to knit and especially purl. In this technique, purling is WAY easier and quicker than knitting.

Finished :)

Okay, so yesterday I wove in the last of my ends about 4 p.m. and I did it in front of Victoria so she would know.

All through this project I kept feeling like the sweater was really wide and really short.... but when I tried the finished sweater on, it fit me fine. I guess that means that I am wide and short! Well.... I am not *that* short.... unfortunately for me, the sweater is a model for the store, so I won't be wearing it unless the yarn and/or pattern is discontinued.

One thing about this pattern is that making it in any size you want is certainly do-able, BUT ... it takes quite a bit of figuring. So I would say that it is a pretty intermediate level of difficulty if you want to knit the pattern exactly as it is written, and it was pretty easy to knit. However, if you want to re-size it, you will need not to be afraid of the math, and be able to think in terms of gauge and measurements. To resize it you almost need to have knit it once, to understand how it goes together, or be pretty adept at being able to read written directions and be able to picture in your mind what is going on where. I will say, though, that it is eminently possible to resize this sweater to whatever width you want it to be. Resizing to a really specific different length is a little more tricky, because you have to add TWO rows rows of diamonds at a time, in order to make the neck be shaped right. If you only add one row of diamonds, there will be no V-shape in the center, because the diamonds are offset on every row. I would have liked my sweater to be one row of diamonds longer (at least, that's what I thought as I was knitting it; in reality, the length was fine). Thinking about it afterward, I think you could add half-diamonds (triangles) at the bottom, making the bottom straight across instead of zig zag, and then pick up stitches and knit down in some pattern stitch, maybe even ribbing, to get exactly the length you want... but then of course, the triangle pieces would be canted in a different direction from all the others, and depending on the edging you choose for the bottom, the fit would be different, perhaps. Like I said earlier, working on this design makes me want to branch off and come up with my own, nearly entirely different ideas....

I loved making this pullover and I want to make another one. But different, of course :)

Here's my finished product:


The Race Is On....

..... and now it is nearly over.

On May 8th or so, Victoria and I discussed what model we should knit from the new Vita yarn from Alchemy. It is a great 100% raw silk, so it has a nice texture to it, and it comes in luscious colors, of course:


Usually, if Victoria volunteers to knit something for the store, I approve wholeheartedly, and am thankful that she wants to make it! Unfortunately, I didn't really like the tank top from the book Knitting Nature that was Victoria's choice to knit the model from..... or was it because I had found the thing that *I* really wanted to knit from Vita? I had become quite fond of the Just One More Row pattern from Jill Vosburg, the Diamond Patch Sweater. But when I frowned down Victoria's choice, I could see she wasn't happy about it.... and then I had a brilliant idea.

Why don't we both knit a model from the same yarn, and see which one we like best? Plus, it would be fun. I am not sure exactly when it became a race, to see who would finish first, but it was a race before we wound up our first balls of yarn. Here are the two patterns we picked out:




Victoria chose Vita in red, and I chose a dark, mulberryish purple. My first instinct was to pick the pretty light blue... but I kinda wanted to see what the pattern would look like in a darker color, and it was already pictured in a light color. Here are the colors we chose:


So off we went. Both of us immediately wound the skeins into balls and started gauge swatches. Here are pictures, of yarn balls and beginnings:




Victoria was soon done her swatch and started on her project; I was lucky because my swatch could also double as my first modular piece.

Each of our projects has a somewhat unusual method of construction; mine is knit in modular diamond shapes, and they are knitted in as you go. Victoria's top is knit in a long, thin piece that spirals around as you go, and you add the piece to the lower part of the spiral as you work along, so it is all joined together.

I gave Victoria an extra day to work on her top, because 1) her project required one more ball of yarn than mine did; 2) she is so much younger and less experienced than I am; 3) I am a WAAAAY better knitter, of course; and 3) she gave me a cookie when I begged her for it. It was a really good cookie.

So now it has been a month. I actually finished knitting my top on Sunday night. I still have to weave in the ends, so it really isn't technically finished yet.... but I will weave them in by the end of knitting tonight. So that means Victoria has to finish her top by the end of her knitting group tomorrow night, for the race to be a tie. Hope she isn't reading my blog :D

We both have loved knitting with the Vita yarn ... I would certainly knit with it again! And I know it will be a comfy fiber to wear, too... it is soft and feels good against my skin. The Diamond Patch Sweater is a little shorter than I would have liked it to be... but the directions did give options on how to lengthen it. I liked this pattern well enough that maybe sometime I will even knit it again, or a slightly different version of it... it's the sort of design that makes me start thinking of lots of ideas. That can only lead to trouble!