Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Madison Was Marvelous

I got home yesterday from teaching at the Madison Knitters’ Guild Annual Knit-In. I drove to Madison (Wisconsin) by way of the Upper Peninsula. Total drive time one-way was about 12 hours. I’m just not up to making that drive in one day. So, I broke up the drive.

One would think that spending nearly four days driving and only two days teaching would be a bad thing. Not in this case. Going over the Mackinac Bridge and into the UP is always a pleasure.

My trip started early Thursday. Even before I crossed the bridge, I experienced a Close Encounter of the Eagle Kind: a Bald Eagle was munching on a large carcass on the right side of the road. As I drove nearer, it took off and flew right in front of me across the road. A fantastic view! And a harbinger of a good trip. Ok, so it snowed most of the drive. At least there was no accumulation and the roads were mostly free of traffic.

I made a brief stop in Naubinway. King’s Fish Market has fantastic smoked fish. (Now, in the UP there are shop signs and billboards for smoked fish every few miles. Other classic UP signs also include lottery tickets, liquor, jerky, cheese curds, and – of course – pasties.). I bought some cherry smoked salmon and some black pepper crusted smoked salmon. They also had several other smoked salmons, smoked whitefish, smoked trout, and smoked chub.

Let me tell you the Tale of the Tumbling Man. Near Gladstone, maybe 5-10 miles east, I saw a most baffling event. There was a car stopped on the right side of the road. As I approached, the car slowly started moving and something tumbled out of the right side of the car and onto the shoulder of the road. I quickly realized it was a human being with a bag, maybe a backpack. It was as if the man – maybe woman (who can tell when the person in question is in winter gear) – had been shoved out of the car, or willingly jumped tuck-and-roll-style out of the car. By this time, I’d passed the car and they were behind me. I slowed down, thinking of stopping, but then I watched in my rearview mirror as the tumbling man got up in what seemed a nonchalant fashion, picked up the bag and calmly walked across the road and up a driveway.

How weird is that? The car in question continued on its way for a bit, then turned into a road, stopped, and seemed to be about to go back to the “scene of the crime”. I had continued driving and at this point I lost sight of what was happening. I would like to think that if the tumbling man had appeared injured I would have stopped, even though I was by myself. I guess I could have used my phone to call or take video or pictures. But the guy seemed fine. What a puzzle.

That first day of driving took me to Valders, Wisconsin, where I stayed overnight at the home of Carol and Paul Wagner of Hidden Valley Farm & Woolen Mill.  I gave them the smoked salmon, and they treated me to a dinner of leg of lamb, salad, perfectly steamed asparagus, and mashed potatoes. A memorable dinner. And the conversation was good too!

Before dinner, I was given the honor of helping feed a bottle baby: one of a set of lamb triplets that the mom seemed not to “like”. This adorable lamb was black, and one of Carol’s friends dubbed it “Blackberry”. Carol told me she plans to keep this one. Who wouldn’t?

I got to Madison the following noon with no hitch. The ever helpful Mary Jo Harris, the coordinator for the classes, stopped by my hotel room to give me a Knit-In bag which contained pertinent info for the Knit-In as well as a fantastic notebook: 5”x7”, hardcover, spiral bound, with a magnetic closing, a pen, and several sizes of post-its. A very useful gift.

The Knit-In was held at the Alliant Energy Center. Knitters were not the only folks at the center. There was also a state gymnastics event, and a doll show. And at the hotel, there seemed to be other folks who were part of the state high school basketball playoffs. A happenin’ weekend. Of course, we knitters had the best time. All the folks in all my classes were engaged and enthusiastic. Madison really has some awesome fiber folks. Maybe there’s something in the water.

Because I was teaching, I didn’t have much time to take advantage of the market. In fact, I didn’t buy ANY yarn or ANY fiber. I did, however, make two impulse buys, both from the same booth, a potter from Madison, Jenny Blasen Pottery . I bought a tiny little shallow bowl (maybe for tea bags or a spoon rest), and a small mug. Could. Not. Resist.

My drive home included a couple other impulse buys: some more smoked salmon (for me, this time), a UP bumper sticker (also at King’s Fish Market), and some irresistible peanut brittle at Kilwin’s in Petoskey.

I’m still not completely unpacked, but I did manage to do a load of laundry. By tomorrow I hope to start tackling three projects with fast approaching due dates. Maybe I’ll also finish unpacking.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Used Majacraft Little Gem Spinning Wheel for Sale

I am helping a friend sell a couple of her many spinning wheels. The first one up is a Little Gem wheel, made by Majacraft. This a folding wheel and is light in weight, making it perfect for travel. She bought it new in 2005. It comes with 3 bobbins. She may at one time have had the carrying bag and lazy kate, but she can’t find them. There are 5 drive ratios on this wheel. It’s double treadle, scotch tension, with a delta orifice. The drive bands are in very good shape. The wheel itself is also in good shape, but a bit dusty. I’ve been cleaning it up. It treadles and spins nicely.

You can find information about this wheel (including downloadable manuals) on the Majacraft website.

New, this wheel would cost about $900 - $1000 (without the bag and lazy kate). The asking price is $600. I’d rather not ship this wheel (but if I did, the buyer would cover packaging, shipping, and insurance costs). I am willing to drive a bit to deliver or meet. I live in Lake Ann, MI. If you are interested, or if you have questions, you can contact me:

Friday, March 11, 2016

12 X 5 = 60

Here is the second of twelve sock patterns in my journey of 60 stitches. The featured stitch pattern is a 12-stitch repeat. So, 5 repeats equals 60 stitches total. I’ve modified a twist stitch pattern – “Little Wave” – from A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns by Barbara G. Walker.

I mirrored the pattern to change it from a 6-stitch repeat to a 12-stitch repeat.

I used a yarn from my stash that I have learned is now discontinued: Great American Yarns “Soft Sea Wool”. Too bad it’s discontinued, because it is a pleasure to knit. I’m glad I recently bought a lot of it discounted at the nearby Lost Art Yarn Shoppe.

This yarn is 100% wool, and comes in skeins of 50 grams, approximately 162 yards per skein. I used 2 skeins. (I wear a size 6 ½ shoe, so if your feet are larger, you might need more yardage.) I used color 0754, a dusty yellow that really shows off the stitch pattern. I got my gauge (7 ½ sts per inch, 11 rounds per inch) using US size 2 (2.75mm) needles in stockinette stitch.
Loosely CO 60 sts. I used a long tail cast on, and US size 4 (3.5mm) for the cast on, then changed to US size 2 (2.75mm) for the sock. I used a set of 4 double pointed needles and distributed the stitches so that there were 18 sts on Needle 1, 18 sts on Needle 2, and 24 sts on Needle 3.

Round 1: *k3, p3; rep from * around.

Repeat Round 1 for approximately 1 ½ inches (18 rounds).

See the previous blog post for notes about RT and LT.

Round 1: knit.
Round 2: *k4, p2, k3, p2, k1; rep from * around.
Round 3: *k3, LT, k5, RT; rep from * around.
Round 4: *k3, p1, k1, p1; rep from * around.
Round 5: *k4, LT, k3, RT, k1; rep from * around.
Round 6: *k3, p2, k5, p2; rep from * around.
Round 7: knit.
Round 8: same as Round 6.
Round 9: *k4, RT, k3, LT, k1; rep from * around.
Round 10: same as Round 4.
Round 11: *k3, RT, k5, LT; rep from * around.
Round 12: same as Round 2.

Work these 12 rounds until sock measures ~6 ½ inches, end having finished a Round 6.

ON THE LAST ROUND OF LEG: work to the last stitch; do not work the last stitch but rather slip it from the end of Needle 3 to the beginning of Needle 1.

Heel Flap:
Redistribute the stitches as follows: 29 sts on Needle 1, 16 sts on Needle 2, and 15 sts on Needle 3.

The heel flap is worked flat on the 29 sts on Needle 1. The 31 sts on the other 2 needles constitute the instep. The twisted stitch pattern is continued on the heel flap.

Row 1 (RS): sl1, knit to end.
Row 2: (WS): sl1, (p3, k2, p5, k2) twice, p4.
Row 3: sl1, (k4, RT, k3, LT, k1) twice, k4.
Row 4: sl1, (p3, k1, p1, k1) four times, p4.
Row 5: sl1, (k3, RT, k5, LT) twice, k4.
Row 6: sl1, (p4, k2, p3, k2, p1) twice, p4.
Row 7: sl1, knit to end.
Row 8: same as Row 6.
Row 9: sl1, (k3, LT, k5, RT) twice, k4.
Row 10: same as Row 4.
Row 11: sl1, (k4, LT, K3, RT, k1) twice, k4.
Row 12: same as Row 2.

Rep Rows 1-12 once more (work 2 times total)

Row 13: sl1, knit to end.
Row 14: sl1, purl to end.

Heel flap should be approximately 2 inches long. If necessary, rep Rows 13-14 to get desired length of heel flap.

Heel Turn:
The turned heel is made up of “short rows” with decreases. This process shapes the heel. As a result, for each row you will work a different number of stitches, and you will end up with fewer total stitches than when you started.

Row 1 (RS): sl1, k15, ssk, k1, turn work.
Row 2: sl1, p4, p2tog, p1, turn work.
Row 3: sl1, k to 1 st before “gap”, ssk, K1, turn work.
Row 4: sl1, p to 1 st before “gap”, p2tog, P1, turn work.

Repeat rows 3 and 4 until 17 sts remain, having finished a row 4.

Next row: sl1, knit across.

Pick up and knit 14 sts along the right side of the heel flap. To do this, insert right needle under the first edge stitch (under both strands of the stitch), wrap the working yarn around the needle, and pull a stitch through (one stitch has now been picked up and knitted). Repeat this process until 14 stitches have been picked up.

Slip the following 31 sts onto one needle. These stitches constitute the instep of the sock. Work these 31 sts following Round 1 of the instep pattern (see below).

Pick up and knit 14 sts along the left side of the heel flap.

Onto this same needle, knit the next 8 stitches (from the remaining heel stitches). Slip the remaining 9 heel stitches onto Needle 1 (with the right side gusset).

You now have 23 sts on Needle 1, 31 sts on Needle 2, and 22 sts on Needle 3. The middle of the heel falls between Needle 3 and Needle 1. Consider this point to be the beginning of the round.

Round 1: On Needle 1, k to last 3 sts, k2tog, k1. On Needle 2, work Round 2 of instep pattern. On Needle 3, k1, ssk, k to end.

Round 2: On Needle 1, knit. On Needle 2, cont working instep pattern as established. On Needle 3, knit.

Rep Rounds 1 & 2 until there are 15 sts on Needle 1 and 14 sts on Needle 3 (60 sts total).

Instep Stitch Pattern (worked on Needle 2):
Round 1: knit.
Round 2: k5, (k1, p2, k3, p2, k4) twice, k2.
Round 3: k5, (LT, k5, RT, k3) twice, k2.
Round 4: K5, (p1, k1, p1, k3) four times, k2.
Round 5: k5, (k1, LT, k3, RT, k4) twice, k2.
Round 6: k5, (p2, k5, p2, k3) twice, k2.
Round 7: knit.
Round 8: same as Round 6.
Round 9: k5, (k1, RT, k3, LT, k4) twice, k2.
Round 10: same as Round 4.
Round 11: k5, (RT, k5, LT, k3) twice, k2.
Round 12: same as Round 2.

After completing all the gusset decreases, cont working even, and cont repeating the instep pattern for as long as you want. I worked a total of 4 ½ repeats of the instep pattern, then I worked Rounds 7-12 once more on just the center 9 sts of the instep.

Work even in st st until foot measures 2 ½ in shorter than desired foot length.

The toe is 28 Rounds total.

Because there is a different number of sts for instep and sole of the foot, Round 1 of the toe contains 2 decreases as follows:

Round 1: On Needle 1, knit. On Needle 2, k1, ssk, k to last 3 sts, k2tog, k1. On Needle 3, knit.

This toe is then shaped so that it gradually narrows. To achieve this effect, you will work a “Decrease Round” more frequently as the toe progresses.

Perform a Decrease Round on Rounds 5, 9, 12, 15, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 27, and 28. On all other rounds (except Round 1 as described above), work even.

Decrease Round: On Needle 1, knit to last 3 sts, k2tog, k1. On Needle 2, k1, ssk, knit to last 3 sts, k2tog, k1. On Needle 3, k1, ssk, k to end.

At this point, there will be 4 sts on Needle 1, 7 sts on Needle 2, and 3 sts on Needle 3. Now, knit the next 4 sts onto Needle 3, leaving 7 sts on Needle 2 and 7 sts on Needle 3.

Graft the toe using the Kitchener stitch:
Cut the working yarn, leaving a 20 inch or longer tail. Thread this tail through a darning needle. Orient the sock so that the 2 needles are horizontal, the instep side of the sock is facing you, and the working yarn is coming off the right side of the needle in the back.

Step 1: Insert darning needle into the first stitch on the front needle as if to knit, pull the yarn through and slip this stitch off the needle. Insert darning needle into the next stitch on the front needle as if to purl, pull the yarn through and leave this stitch on the needle.

Step 2: Insert darning needle into the first stitch on the back needle as if to purl, pull the yarn through and slip this stitch off the needle. Instert darning needle into the next stitch on the back needle as if to knit, pull the yarn through and leave this stitch on the needle.

Repeat Steps 1 and 2 until all stitches have been worked and slipped off the needles.

Weave in all ends.

If you have any questions – or if you find any mistakes – you can either leave a comment on this blog page or email me: or

This pattern is free, but it is still copyrighted. So, please feel free share a copy of this pattern or knit these socks, but please do not sell the pattern or sell socks made from this pattern. Thank you.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

RT and LT

I’ve been working on my March sock pattern. It features a twist stitch pattern that I modified from a BG Walker pattern.

Both right twist (RT) and left twist (LT) maneuvers are used in the pattern. You can think of these moves as 2-stitch cables, easy enough to perform without the use of a cable needle.

Here’s what I usually do:

For RT: skip one stitch, knit the second stitch, then knit the skipped stitch and slip both stitches from the left needle to the right needle.

For LT: skip one stitch, knit the second stitch in the back loop, then knit the skipped stitch in the front loop and slip both stitches from the left needle to the right needle.

Barbara Walker, however, suggested a different method for RT and LT:

RT – BGW style: k2tog, leaving stitches on left needle, then insert right needle from the front between the two stitches just knitted together and knit the first stitch again, then slip both stitches from the left needle to the right needle.

LT – BGW style: with right needle behind left needle, skip one stitch and knit the second stitch in the back loop, then insert right needle into the backs of both stitches (the skipped stitch and the second stitch) and k2tog through the back loops, then slip both stitches from the left needle to the right needle.

For a change of pace, I opted to do RT and LT as Ms. Walker suggests. It took only a couple of times with this new-to-me strategy before it became second nature.

I like both ways. And now I can choose. It’s always nice to try new things.