Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Slip Plus Lace. First Try.

Last fall I taught a knitting workshop on what I call extended and manipulated slip stitches. A few days later, one of the participants – I think it was Lynne McCormick – asked if I’d ever tried combining slip stitches with lace stitches. My response was “You’ve read my mind! I was just thinking about trying that.”

I do love texture in knitting: knit-purl combos, cables, lace, slip stitches. I’ve been over-the-top crazy for slip stitches for many years. Well over 50% of my designs involve slip stitches. So I guess it’s not too strange that I want to combine lace and slip stitches.

My first effort is a simple one. I merely used a narrow slip stitch pattern and a narrow lace pattern and alternated them, making an interesting textured ribbing. I then used this stitch in a sock pattern. I’ve knitted two pairs, and I’m on the third. It’s a nice pattern and a fun knit. (And I do plan to write up the pattern.)

Here are the instructions for knitting the stitch pattern flat:

Amy’s First Slip-Lace
Multiples of 7 sts.

Rows 1 and 3: (WS): *k1, p2, k1, p3; rep from * to end.
Row 2: *sl1wyif, k1, sl1wyif, p1, yo, ssk, p1; rep from * to end.
Row 4: *k1, sl1wyif, k1, p1, k2tog, yo, p1; rep from * to end.

(sl1wyif = slip 1 stitch with the yarn in front)

Here is the pattern charted:

Here is a swatch of the pattern (4 repeats with a garter stitch border) in one color.

Here is a swatch of the pattern in a variegated yarn.

To me, knitting patterns that require frequent and repeated manipulations – such as yarn-overs or slipping with the yarn in front – is like performing a dance pattern. I get into a rhythm and movement flow. And I love it.

Despite its brevity and simplicity, this particular combination of stitches produced a very interesting rhythm.

Notice that if you just use R1 and 3, you get a k3,p1,k2,p1 rib.

When you work ribbing like this, you are moving the yarn to the front to purl and to the back to knit. Yarn-overs and slip stitches can also require moving the yarn front or back. In the combination stitch pattern here, the movement of the yarn front or back becomes a bit unusual and I found I had to really pay attention.

Row 4 requires the most number of switches of yarn placement: knit 1, move yarn, slip 1, move yarn, knit 1, move yarn, purl 1, move yarn, k2tog, move yarn, move yarn again, purl 1. So, there are 7 yarn moves (8, if you are repeating the pattern).

Row 2 requires fewer switches: slip 1, move yarn, knit one, move yarn, slip 1, purl 1, yo, ssk, pl1. Only 2 yarn moves. Yet, I found Row 2 to be considerably more mentally challenging than Row 4. I’m on my third pair of socks (and I’ve knitted the two swatches), and I still have to pause once in a while to avoid mistakes. I think it’s funny that the row with fewer movements is harder.

I plan to continue playing with – and being surprised by – lace and slip stitch combinations.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Dog Time

I’m now living on Dog Standard Time. For the past few years, I’ve been doing an extended dog sitting during the winter for my friends Dick and Jill while they warm up in Guatemala. They dropped off Mari (the dog) at my place on Tuesday. Mari will be with me until early April.

Mari is now 11 years old, a big winter-worthy mix maybe of Malamute or Husky with some Collie or German Shepherd. I love her wolfy face.

Since I don’t have a fenced-in yard, Dick put up a line in the front yard so I can put Mari outside. She likes it outside. The colder, the better. She naps in the snow. And we have a lot of snow right now. Well, it is winter.

Mari gets some movement on the line, but not much. So I need to walk her a couple times a day. In other words, Mari requires that I adjust my daily routine. First thing in the morning I take her for a walk. Sounds simple, but winter here requires significant logistical planning and action. It’s surprising how long it takes to put on long underwear, sweats, scarf, hat, mittens, socks, boots, yaktrax. And don’t forget a couple of plastic bags for poop patrol, and a hankie for the snot that starts to flow after about 10 minutes outside. All this before I even have my cup of coffee.

Don’t get me wrong. I am delighted to have Mari around. She’s pretty well behaved both on and off the leash. It’s very good for me to get outside more often. I do love snow and winter. I can certainly use the extra exercise I get from our walks. Three walks a day. I like the walks, but I’m already getting bored with the necessary donning and doffing of winter clothing.

Mari has a massive coat, and she leaves bits of it everywhere. She also leaves bits of snow everywhere (she does not like to have her feet cleaned).This requires more logistical planning. The living room has wood flooring, so I need to put towels everywhere to capture snow and Mari fur. I need to wash the towels and I need to brush her.

So, my routine is currently dog-centered. That’s a good thing. I am happy to make time for Mari. I still get my fiber stuff done. So what if I don’t clean the house as often…

Monday, January 18, 2016

Change of February Plans

I was going to make this blog post about the workshops I’m teaching in February. Change of plans.

Last fall, the Michigan Fiber Festival started a year-round fiber arts education program  so that workshops could be offered at their new headquarters in Nashville, Michigan. I was very excited that they wanted me to teach both spinning and knitting workshops over several days in February.

I found out earlier today that those workshops have been cancelled due to lack of enrollment. Bummer. Now I need to rethink my February. I had rather counted on the income from teaching those workshops. I will have to tighten an already tight belt for this winter.

What can I do to make some February income sufficient for rent, groceries, gas, and bills? Well, if you know of a group that would like to take any of my workshops, I’d be happy to oblige. Even in winter weather, I’m willing to drive to a venue to teach. I’d also be happy to have a small group of folks over to my house in Lake Ann, Michigan for a workshop. You can find descriptions of my workshops on my website. Or, if you have a spinning or knitting topic that you’d like me to cover, let me know. Contact me at

Cold, snowy days in February might just be perfect for me to get some long ignored knitting pattern writing done. I’ve got a shawl pattern, an afghan pattern, and four (four!) sock patterns that I’ve worked out, but I just need to get good photos and write up those pesky patterns.

Then I’ll be able to add those patterns to the 15 patterns I already have for sale on Ravelry.