The Knitting Nurse

Rambles and Travels

1 Comment

A sweater! Alias is done.

This is my first me-sweater completed in quite a long time.  The last one I made went to my mum as it didn’t fit me quite right and it was smashing on her.  This pattern is called Alias by Isabell Kraemer.

It is a wooly-wool-hug of warmth. The light worsted weight, undyed yarn’s from a little farm on Lopez Island called Island Fibers. I can’t get their webpage to load up for some reason.

I tried so hard to have the sweater completed in time to wear to the Madrona marketplace to show the farm’s owner mid-February.   I didn’t have it finished.  Show and tell photos on the phone had to suffice.

I knit it to the pattern adding sleeve length. I could have a bit less room in the waist.  It fits great over the chest. I did not add bust darts like I thought I would.  I went down two needle sizes for the ribbing. When (yep, when) I reknit it I may go down three as I’d like the rib to pull in a bit more.

Isabelle’s use of little details makes her patterns special. The pockets are knit in, cute and a snap. I was unsure about the bind off on the rib, cuffs, and button bands.  Once I played around with it I rather liked how it defines the edge. She has you knit a row on the rt side and bind off in knit on the wrong side instead of the usual bind off in pattern.  I had to play a bit with tension on that to avoid flaring of the rib while allowing some stretch. I think it complements the casual look of the sweater and makes the buttonhole band feel more substantial.

The construction is genius!  You start at the shoulders and shape with short rows. You then add on stitches for the fronts and all are joined to work back and forth.

There are faux ‘cables’ along the sides, arms, back, ribbing and button bands that keep things interesting.

The collar is knit long and folded over and sewn down. Sooooo cozy. I love it!

A faux cable is incorporated into the ribbing.

The sleeve stitches are picked up around the armscye and knit in the round, down, using short rows. Brilliant!  I like a set in sleeve. They seem to fit my frame better than a standard raglan, this avoids seaming in a sleeve and is such a smooth line. This is my second time using this sleeve method.  I prefer it.

I am hooked on Isabelle Kraemer’s designs. Her patterns are clearly written. I have Daelyn printed out and the Swans Island All American Worsted yarn all set.   And then there’s Driftwood. Wouldn’t that be a smart, 4 season sweater (so needed in the PNW) in a linen/wool blend?  I have sweater fever, with numerous patterns purchased and in the Ravelry queue.  I’ll show you Telja by Jennifer Steingass, which is on the needles, in another post.  Its progress is being slowed by a looming Biochemistry final.

Have you watched the Fruity Knitting podcast?  I’ve subscribed and am a Patreon.  They recently interviewed Isabelle Kraemer. I enjoyed the view into her personality and mind frame around knitwear design.  Fruity Knitting is my favorite knitting podcast. Andrew and Andrea, an Australian couple living in Germany, go above and beyond the usual podcast with interviews of people involved in knitwear and fibers all over the world.  They have a Knitters Around the World segment where other knitters share a short video spotlight of themselves. They also hike in the UK a lot and I love drooling over the locations’ scenery while they take breaks to knit.That’s something I identify with as I always keep a small project in my backpack whilst I walk.

Consider becoming a Patreon if you enjoy and support their work. It is a full-time job for Andrea and will keep this delightful resource coming.



Leave a comment

On the Needles

Oh, I have precious little knitting time these days.  When I knit it is welcomed relaxation and watch PBS time.  Just finished Victoria. Have you seen it?  Here’s what’s on the needles:

I started Alieas in September 2017. Had I been monogamous she would be done by now as it’s really a quick knit. Isabelle Kraemer is a genius, folks, the construction method was entirely top-down – shoulder shaping, sleeves and all.  Today she had a warm bath, a spin in the washer and is blocking into a cohesive and fluffy hug of a sweater.

I passed my Microbiology final last night so I treated myself to a full morning of knitting. All is done on this except the button bands. I prefer to block before I put those on.

The wool is delicious, wooly, undyed and from Island Fibers’ Lopez Island sheep. I bought it at Madrona Fiber Arts Festival almost one year ago.  My goal is to get the button bands on and wear it to the festival this week to share with them.


On the train back from Portland I cast on a new fingering weight, Shetland wool Field Hat by Amy Christophers. I’m using a mix of Jamieson’s and Elemental Affects. I adore the Peerie Flooers hat I made last year. It is warm and soft. This one will have a double brim to protect my ears from wind.

Guernsey Wrap by Jared Flood has stalled for sweater ambitions. This behemoth will be a warm and light swath of fun. It’s a potato chippy pattern to make.  Just one more row is actually just one more pattern repeat. I was worried I’d not have enough yarn. I made it well past the halfway point before using up half the yarn.  It is Shelter by Brooklyn Tweed in the color Thistle.

And finally, I’ve been chomping at the bit to start a Telja by Jennifer Steingass.  I’ve queued up a few of her colorwork yoked sweaters. My LYS, Bazaar Girls, is doing a KAL for this beauty.  Getting Alias off the needles meant today could I cast on Telja.  I plan to knit the sleeve a ways up and block it for swatching information. The patterns calls for 5 SPI but I’d like to knit my Lett Lopi more around 4.5 SPI. We’ll see what happens. I’ve started on a size 6 for the cuff and a 7 above the colorwork. I have a feeling I need to pull back to the colorwork and use the 6.  I’ve never made a colorwork sweater for myself only for childrens’ charitable giving.  I also hope this style yoke fits me well.  We shall see!

1 Comment

On and Off the Needles

Project catch up:

A big box o’love I mailed to my sis last week. Would you like a peek inside?

Have you knit the Tomten by Elizabeth Zimmerman? It’s brilliant!  I used up many beloved odds n ends as well as two skeins of yarn from my northern CA days, Windrush Farms yarn from Mimi. This is a modular, all garter stitch pattern. Sonja will look adorable and ever bit the mischievous, impish wee one in that hood. Notes can be found on my Ravelry project page.

A quickie Husky quilt goes to Sonja from fabric her mom sent me.  This is my third time sewing this pattern. Super fast! Love it.

A Pumpkin hat went in for my nephew Chris because hey, babies get that sort of thing.

For a baby on the way I crafted up an apple hat. The leaves I winged.

You may know I’ve gone back to school and knitting time is at a premium. I need simple, can knit it while not looking sorts of projects.  This is The Big Easy in Manos Maxima a merino single that is knit underwear out of it soft.  I like the deep brim and it’s the perfect amount of slouchy.

The color is more accurate in this pic. Most knitting is done at night with Jane in my lap these days.

I also started Alieas, a cardigan by Isabelle Kraemer in a wooly-wool I bought at Madrona last February from Island Fibers of Lopez Island. Loving it so far and I’m much further that this pic shows. Top down, I got to the bust and decided horizontal bust darts are needed to provide some length to accomodate the girls to keep the sweater length in the front correct.  I read somewhere that it is a good idea to get sleeves in before doing so as that will greatly change the fit on the shoulders and front. I’ve got one sleeve zooming along (really love knitting a sleeve using the short row top down technique).  I put it on last night and the neckline and back width are perfect.  I’ve done bust dart calculations per Ysolda Teague’s Little Red in the City book and will insert and con’t the body after I’ve done both sleeves.

This is my first Isabelle Kraemer pattern and it is meticulously written and clear. I adore her designs and have several fav’ed and queued. There is a mock cable on the fronts, the underarm and sides and hem that are a special detail.

Can’t wait to finish this and make another sweater!  I’m in a sweater making mode…

1 Comment

Charitable Knitting August 2017 Shipment

I sent a box of wooly goodies off to Seattle to help warm and clothe Syrian refugees.  The group on Ravelry called Hats and More for War Torn Syria facilitates this.  A very positive and lively group, it’s full of camaraderie. 

Three vests (L-R) Mini-Thermal Vest x 2 and the Toddler T-Shirt Vest. I found vests to be a reasonable project in warm months. The one on the L is from Noro Kureyon, the middle is Brown Sheep Lambs Pride worsted and the blue one is from bits and pieces.

Two sleeved sweaters made the box including (L) a very thick and warm Baby Pullover in more Brown Sheep held with Noro Silk Garden and (R) Quick Oats in some very deep stash Mountain colors 3 Ply wool.

Mukluk Slippers are a fun knit and also used some deep stash of Berocco Vintage. I suspect I’ll be making myself some for around the house.  A simple beanie for a child topped it all off.  Time to build that pile back up!



Peerie Flooers – Wee, wooly flowers!

Here’s a first.  I knit colorwork in fingering weight wool.  Gasp!  I know.  There are cobwebs in my bin of fingering weight yarn.

Peerie Flooers by Kate Davies has been in my Ravelry queue for some time.  The LYS Bazaar Girls has a fine selection of Elemental Affects Shetland wool.  Check out the 54 color chart on their website.  It is incredible!  Winter’s been cold. I think that motivated me to get this going for the yarn float warmth it would bring.

I had gauge issues because I just couldn’t bring myself to make a gauge swatch. The plan , heh, was to just CO and take it off the needles after a bit to check.  I have a small head so I CO a small using a #3 needle for the ribbing and a #4 for the body. The medium I started with was too large.

My row gauge was off.  The tall band should have been a clue.  But I liked the fabric on a #4 so I kept on.

I had to modify the crown decreases (omitting many rows) to avoid the hat being freakishly tall.


Kate shares a tutorial on reading decrease charts for colorwork patterns which I needed to understand how to read her chart. I’m still not clear on it.  Despite her thorough explanations I still relied on the written out instructions at the end of the post that lined up with the number of stitches in the chart.

I love it!  It’s so warm and very soft.  But I think I would choose the #3 needle next time I do colorwork with this yarn. The hat fits great in diameter but still is too tall and not slouchy enough for the top to flop over in a cute way. So I remedy that by folding the brim up a bit in the back.

Perhaps I’ll make the mittens?


Leave a comment

Madrona Fiber Arts Festival – Part One of Three – Inside the Murano

Back in early 2016 I added Madrona Fiber Arts Festival to my calendar  planning to stay the weekend and take classes.  Attending an educational event for knitting yearly is a goal of mine.   Last year I went to Knit Fit in Ballard.

Madrona is legendary. And for good reason. A newbie this year, I went full on and stayed at the Hotel Murano a couple of nights with a friend and registered for three classes including Eek Steeks! with Mary Scott Huff, Knitting Ergonomics with Carson Demers and Knitting for Speed and Proficiency with Stephanie Pear-McPhee.

Tacoma is famous for its Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum. I didn’t make time to visit the museum (just the glory outside of it). The hotel was a fine substitute with each floor a display of glass and artists. It’s a spectacular place.

Large pieces hang  from the ceilings and small pieces are tucked into niches and cases and dangle from the ceiling as lighting.

On to the yarn-y experience:

Have you read Clara Parkes delightful book Knitlandia? I love the concept. It details fiber related events and festivals,  an oral history from a yarn-y gal’s perspective. It’s perfect for picking up off the bedside table to take in one or two stories at a time.

Of her maiden Madrona arrival she wrote, “Inside the lobby was now chock-a-block with knitters, sprawled on every suitable surface, clustered on couches and armchairs and coffee tables. They were checking into their rooms, they were at the bar, they were headed up the glass stairs and over to the elevators. Everyone was smiling, hugging, exclaiming and petting one another’s handknits. This Brigadoon manifestation of the Pacific Northwest fiber elite had officially begun.”

Amy and I pulled up to the curb upon arrival.  Valets helped us unload our multitude of bags onto a cart.  Stepping inside my breath escaped.  The gleaming space bounces light off every surface including the giant glass lighting.  The scene described by Clara above matched my view.  I was giddy with a shared sense of yarny camaraderie. And the photo I took of the lobby did not turn out. Gah!

An evening teachers’ gallery was a feast of inspiration and awe.

I was able to pet the works of and meet some designers such as Lucy Neatby:

Here’s  Janine Bajus‘s work. I was so glad to meet her, drool over her colorwork and sponge up the inspiration.

On to classes.

I took a mini class on ergonomics of knitting from Carson Demers where I learned much about the way my hands and fingers move and how my body will sustain knitting in a pain-free way if I am attentive to keeping neutral positions. Mind you,sitting on my couch with a cat in my lap doesn’t promote that. I have some learning and adjustments to make.  He will soon release a book.

EEK Steeks by Mary Scott Huff  was next. She was an outstanding instructor, her goofy brand of humor laced throughout. My sides hurt from laughing. Here she is doing an interpretive dance of wool fiber being blocked.

Her work is stunning and the finishing…my god the finishing…the woman’s a goddess of finishing…

Steeking is a process where you knit colorwork in the round, adding a column of stitches that will be reinforced then cut along to open the tube to flat. It can be used on armholes, cardigan fronts, and partial front openings. I bet there’s more applications.

She also taught us how to cast on two sleeves at a time, both steeked in order to knit two at a time which is absolutely genius!  No color “jogs” will occur at the start point and if you use a self striping yarn for your colorwork it will line up across the sleeves beautifully.

Check out the bias tape she used to cover the steek of this sleeve:

I’d never steeked before. But I’ve knitted many colorwork items in the round (hats, mittens, bands on yokes).

It was time to move forward-

Here’s the crochet method, my favorite of the class as it seemed less fiddly. Using a hook you crochet up along the cutting line locking certain legs of stitches together which prevents them from dropping once cut.  Colorwork is traditionally (and best) done with wooly-wool so the barb-like fibers hook together.

Snip snip!  Seems scary to cut knitting, right?  Not anymore for me.

A handsewn method means using thread and needle to puncture the legs of certain stitches together. It felt fiddly. And, I’ll admit, anything involving a needle and thread makes me impatient.


Snip! It works!

We also used her sewing machine and I liked that method as well. That one seems a little scarier, though, as it can distort the fabric. A walking foot can help.  I’d practice on sacrificial swatches a lot before going that route.

The final class shall be a post of its own-coming right up!


Leave a comment

Madrona Part Two of Three – Stephanie Pearl McPhee – Lightning Fast Knitting – And restrained (somewhat) stash acquisition.

The last class I took at Madrona was from Stephanie Pearl McPhee, AKA the Yarn Harlot, a woman whose blog I’ve been following since 2007.

What a treat to finally take a course from her.  Via historical photos detailing a timeline of knitting, she explained how knitting sustained families and how British families accomplished knitting 2 pairs of socks per week per person back when.  It was all about efficiency.  In time, knitting became more restrained, more lady-like and  the mechanics that promoted efficiency were frowned upon.  Hand and body positioning changed to meet society’s requirements.

Show us the palm of your hands while knitting?  For shame! Walk while knitting?  Gasp! That’s for peasants…

Thus, the norms of knitting changed which slowed pace and efficiency.

Stephanie then taught us tidbits about hand positioning, arm motion, knitting belts, walking while knitting, how to carry it on your person, yarn organization, choosing continental vs English method (picking vs throwing) depending on the project (in the round? colorwork?  flat?) and being willing to use both. She discussed varying your projects’ yarn weight to cut back on fatigue and injury (eg: socks and worsted weight item and something bulky) which was also a concept Carson touted in his ergonomics course.

Then,  she put on her knitting belt and walked around the room knitting, and all fell silent. The speed and efficiency of her knitting was astounding. This is called Lever Knitting. 

In this video she is using DPNS on a sock. I grabbed this video off YouTube and it shows the technique well and the gal provides interpretation of it. Very interesting:

I tried the technique with a pair of long straight needles  (had to scrounge to find a pair, haven’t deviated from circulars in ages), one tucked into my right armpit.

It felt super-awkward but really neat-

Here’s Hazel Tindall, the worlds fastest knitter, using the lever technique and her knitting belt:

This is a technique I’d like to delve into and try more.

On to the Stash Acquisition part.

The vendors market was glorious! One could find yarn, fiber, notions, handmade needles, all sorts of things. I focused my shopping on unusual and locally or small-batch produced yarn.  So many choices.

The grey wooly yarn is from Island Fibers on Lopez Island up here in the San Juan Islands. It’s soft but rustic. 1600 yards will easily yield a lovely cardigan. I bought it with Naima or Aileas in mind. To the right, Local Colors Rambouillet Fingering weight, all plant dyed, will combine for a lovely shawl.

I’ve yet to knit with cormo, a lofty, plump and deliciously squishy wool. The greenish blue yarn on the left is from Sincere Sheep and begs to be something very cabled, probably a hat. In the middle, the joyfully colored skein is a DK weight yarn by Fancy Image Yarn. Myra Garcia has an eye for color and I was so glad to meet her. This lovely is destined to become a little cardi for my niece Lily, the colors every bit as bubbly as she is.  The luscious froth of moody blues on the right is sport weight alpaca/merino by Black Wolf Ranch out of Montana.  It’s marinating.

Dat’s it!  I used restraint.  I’d love to go next year.