Monday, July 23, 2012

the Magic of Celtic Cables


When I learned how to knit it was not on a single day that some one taught me, it was a process. I was 3 or 4 yrs old when my mother taught me how to crochet. When I was 25 my friend Tory and I decided to learn to knit. I could NOT do it. I checked out every book my library had on knitting. I read them cover to cover. It was several years later that I actually cast on and learned to knit. That same month a yarn store opened up in my town. I had all the book info I read in my head, so a few months later I was the newest knitter but teaching classes. I didn’t want to make scarves and purses. I did not want to make a trendy dog sweater. (I don’t even have a dog).
What I wanted to learn more than anything was cables. Not just boring cables but celtic knot work in yarn.  I wanted to make sweaters. I had no one to teach me. (I am know spoiled with 4 yarns stores with in 30 min of my house).
Carol Feller’s Celtic Cables class would have been exactly what I needed and wanted.
Even now 8 yrs later, I can rarely take a class. I have a crazy schedule, 6 children and and knitting events I am usually working. This is why Craftsy is so amazingly wonderful! I can watch the videos at 10 pm or at 7 am, when I have the time. But! you are not alone in taking the class, both the instructors and fellow students interact and help answer eachother's questions. 



Carol Feller’s class is more than just how to make the stitches cross over each other. Carol teaches you how to measure your body, how to actually use gauge (that scary word to knitters who don’t know it’s magic), cast on techniques, how to read and follow charts, and make a celticy amazing sweater by the end. As if this wasn’t enough Carol will even show you cabling with and without a cable needle. The sweater pattern in the picture above is included in the course, and you learn step by step how to make it, and make it fit you.
If you take only one class ever, this is definitely the one to take.

I had an opportunity to ask Carol a few questions. I asked my fellow knitters, what you would want to ask Carol, and here are your questions and her answers:
What is it that you love about cables?
I love the three dimensional quality of cables, they twist in and out of each other organically.  When I draw twisted vines and leaves are one of my favorite things to draw, to a certain extent my love of cables is almost an extension of this.
I’m also a very visual person and when you’re working for a cable chart ‘what you see is what you get’.  If it works in the chart then you know that it will translate well directly into stitches.  This also makes it very easy to spot mistakes in your cable work, you just hold it up next to the chart and you can see if any of your cable crosses don’t match up.

Do you find that cabling without a cable needle distorts the stitches?
My preference is to use a cable needle for anything more than a 2 or 3 stitch cable.  For me personally I find myself less likely to make mistakes this way.  However I haven’t really found any more distortions when working without a cable needle.  It may feel like this as you’re in the process of moving the stitches as you do need to stretch them but you’re not working them any differently than with a cable needle.
This is why it’s so important to block cabled projects though.  The stitches are so twisted and distorted they really need a warm bath to allow the stitches to settle into their new positions and relax.

What is currently on your needles?
Cables!  I’m currently working on a pullover project in some Brooklyn Tweed ‘Shelter’ that is on the last stages.  Just a sleeve and collar to finish and I get to jump into my backlog of 6-7 projects...
(As you might guess I never, ever get to knit for myself or family now, much to my regret.)

How little wool content can a yarn have without losing the crispness of the stitches? For those with wool allergies, have you found a non-wool yarn that works well with cables?
I’ve never really tested the exact % that you’d need to retain the stretchy qualities of wool.  Offhand I’d probably say around 50% but it would depend greatly on what it’s blended with.  Cables can indeed be worked with non-wool yarns but the lack of stretch in cotton and silks means that you need to be very conscious of your tension while you’re working.  I’d suspect that a yarn like Rowan ‘All Season Cotton’ which is cotton and acrylic would actually be really nice to work in cables, it’s got a high twist and good stitch definition.  I would avoid materials like bamboo (too inelastic) and any kind of brushed mohair which you can’t see the stitches with.

Do any of the cable stitch motifs have significance/meaning?
No.  That is just a legend that’s built up over the last century and has absolutely no basis in reality.  As nice as it would be, very much a myth J

My button bands are always a bit floppy. Can an applied Icord edging be an acceptable substitute for a button band?
If your button bands are floppy it usually means that you need to work them on a smaller needle size and perhaps need to change the stitch pattern to a stiffer one. 
I use applied I-Cord all the time for the edging on garments however the garment is designed to meet exactly at the front without a button band.  If a knitter adds I-Cord instead of a button band when the garment hasn’t been designed for it you will have a gap at the front of the garment and it may not close.  Button bands are usually 1-2” wide and if you omit this by using an applied I-Cord then the fronts won’t meet.  If you factor this in as you knit you can add extra width at the front of the garment as you work.

What motivated you to write your book, Contemporary Irish Knits?
A couple of years ago I wrote an article on Kerry Woollen Mills. Before that, I hadn’t really looked at the Irish mills and Irish wool, but when I started researching I just found it fascinating. I learned so much writing that article and it just spurred me on, I started asking questions about what other mills were here , what other Irish yarns were available. But there’s no patterns available for these yarns. Everyone talks about wonderful Irish designs and Irish wool but there just isn’t much out there currently. The seed was sown at that point and the book was the next step.

Do you have any other classes or books available?
On Craftsy I also have a free class available on Short Rows.  http://www.craftsy.com/class/short-rows/96
I do a few small tutorials on my own website, both photo and video
Last year a published a booklet, Scrumptious Knits in conjunction with the yarn company Fyberspates
Also, I publish a full range of self-published patterns available on my website http://www.stolenstitches.com/pattern-shop/


Now, if you made all the way thru this lengthy post, you will love the reward!
For my blog readers, (which you stealthy people who never comment, how can there be 800 of you?!) there is a special discount!

if you click on this link and sign up for celtic cables, you will get the class 33% off! CLICK HERE
Many thanks to craftsy and to Carol for their genorosity!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Socially Archaic and Just Plain Silly

We all know the "look" we get from the non-fiber loving people, when we say "I knit" or "I spin". Stephanie Pearl McPhee captures our reactions and the public's reaction to "us" so well. It is always a pleasure to see her in person.
So when my friend Sue said, "Lets go see YarnHarlot!", no problem. It is a 3 hr drive. No Problem. It is at A Verb For Keeping Warm. YES!!!!! We HAVE to go!

I love AVFKW. I had never been to their store, but we see each other at Stitches West, I adore their booth, their fiber, the yarn, and of course their wonderful people. I have several friends who get the privilege of having AVFKW as their LYS. Which meant not only did we get to go to  Verb, we got to see Yarn Harlot, we got a girlie road trip and we got a mini reunion with some wonderful people.




Sue, Tirzah, Kezziah, Mom and I drove down and had the best night! We laughed so hard with Brenda Patipa and Leslie Comstock (the famous ChewyKnits), FiberBeat's Michael Wade who is always a joy to see. Then we turned around and drove back home.


Tirzah was so excited to get compliments on her sock from Stephanie.
I love that my 16 yr old loves the rockstars of the knitting world!




Kezzi had a hard time picking yarn, "It's like choosing between friends". She was too busy yarning to get to talk to Stephanie. (Tell me about it! I feel that way especially when the dyers are friends of mine! Shall I use Jennifer or Maia or Lisa for this project and will I put it in a project bag from Slipped Stitches or ErinLane? We know it will wind up in my Jordana Paige!)









My mother had no idea who YarnHarlot was other than we talked about her. She had never read a blog post or read her book, but she did remember talking to her at Sock Summit. (haha!) So now my mom is a full fledged, passport carrying Knitville dweller. She has turned her first heel, been to 2 knitting conventions, and has a Verb road trip to add to her knitting experiences.



Many thanks to Sue for instigating this wonderful night. I love you.


Saturday, July 14, 2012

it is about time!

winners? how about we do that!
While I was supposed to draw names a while ago, I
 was slightly distracted with sick kids (scarlet fever),
 A bday party, cast removal from the broken arms...yada yada
So Talia, now castless, drew names:
1- Miriam Pike
And we needed a 2nd winner...
2- Teabird

Congrats! you each win sock yarn!
 
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