The Knitting Nurse

Rambles and Travels

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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…

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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?


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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!


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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.


Knitting – Fall of 2016

Hello all. It’s been ages since I’ve shared knitting pics. Time for a little catch up.

I’m in a Holiday gift knitting mode.

Prior to that panic seasonal mode’s beginning I filled up a box of warm, wooly goodies for the Hats and More for War Torn Syria group on Ravelry. They have a Facebook page, under the same moniker, if you are not connected to Ravelry and would like more info.

The more I see of the devastation over there, the displaced persons and people living under fire the more my heart breaks. This is one way I can make an effort to address the question many of us may share, “What can I do?”  Many thanks to my mom for sending me a box of wool yarn to help the cause.


A stack of thick, warm hats went in. Claire Russell has an E Book on Ravelry Called For Giving.   I used her patterns for many of these. It is written in many sizes, at a bulky gauge, including textures, slipped stitch colorwork and traditional colorwork patterns.


My source of warmth whilst making is Jane.  Jane’s hanging in there, our sweel ol’ girl.  Rapid weight loss and listlessness was recently diagnosed by our wonderful vet as hypothyroidism, a side effect of the hyperthyroidism we treated about 18 months ago. One pill a day and she’s now gaining weight, more interactive and even a bit kittenish every now and then. I am so glad we found her more time.  It’s hard having geriatric pets. Unfortunately, she has kidney damage to watch.


Here’s the accumulation of projects over many months:

+++Please note I link to a public view of my Ravelry page for project details. You can access the designers pages from there.

Winters Fern by Trin Annelie.  Made in various shades of Shelter and Loft by Brooklyn Tweed. gosh it makes for beautiful colorwork, so light! This was my sis Karen’s b-day gift.  This pattern is a blast to knit.  I just love colorwork.


I also knit a Winters Fern for my sis Alison but it turned our too big for her. Big bummer. The pale blue main color is Beaverslide Merino, Mule Spun merino/Mohair from Montana. Man is it delicious. I traded for the skein from another Raveler so I could sample it. I begs to be a thickly cabled sweater. How I love knitting cables.

I guess I like knitting most things. Except intarsia. Or fingering weight socks. Or I cord. Or…


The trip to England required thoughtful knitting project selection. Two weeks – long flights – lots of car time. The practical choice would’ve been a fingering weight shawl. But my attention span to projects is changing. I get bored easily. So I packed several one skein projects.

A Churchmouse Last-Minute Cowl (my third?) from one skein of lush Madelinetosh ASAP on #11 needles, The Rikke hat in a skein of very special handspun yarn (called red robinish, a clever name) I bought while in Duluth, MN last summer and a pair of Lambing Mitts in Cestari Traditional 2 play wound up being matchy-matchy. And I didn’t even plan it!

Need a quick gift? The cowl can be whipped up in just a few hours. The pattern has several options as far as patterning and can be made into one or two loops.   The color is undergrowth, so pretty and complex, but not well captured in this photo.

The Rikke Hat is super easy but I ripped it out many time as it runs too big for me.  I think the pattern is written for DK weight and this yarn is heavier than that. Plus, I have a pin-head.  I removed some stitches from the CO and fudged the decreases. The yarn I picked out at Yarn Harbor  in Duluth, my former and much missed college town. It was handspun by a gal who has a blog called Knitting My Way Home. She has an Etsy shop but I see no products listed. Yarn Harbor is a delightful shop should you be up there. It gets cold there. And they know wool!

I’ve made two pairs of Lambing Mitts. Again, peasy, a great gift, and they beg for a wooly, traditional wool. I have long hands so mine are long and the flaps are long enough to cover my fingers if needed. This Cestari Wool is made on a small farm in Virginia. I encourage you to visit their website and explore who they are. A personal goal of mine is to reduce my use of mass produced yarns and support more local producers. I’ve plenty of both in my stash.  Hello, SABLE!  But that’s another post I’m formulating in my head for new years knitting goals for 2017. Gasp! Almost there…

This yarn bloomed into soft, lofty, snuggly fabric when blocked. It has its lanolin so they smell sheepy which I don’t mind. My hands drank it up while knitting it. I test drove this skein as well for future sweater knitting needs.

Despite the mods, Rikke still turned out a bit too loose on the forehead. I’ll thread some elastic thread through to snug it up.

More recent projects include my Lake Breeze Cardigan which has stalled due to holiday knitting. So many sweaters I wish to make this year.


Here’s a Tensfield hat, my third, knit up in Silk Garden Sock. Knit in a modular manner, it’s a quick and fun project, esp. in Noro. The color changes make you want to just knit a bit longer to see the next color change. This is a perfect, light hat in a light yarn. The pattern accommodates any gauge. It’s like magic!

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A wee baby sweater I’ll put buttons on today and holiday gifts I shall share later when photographed. Thanks for stopping in!

And happy knitting-



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The Twisted Yarn’s Inspirational Project

Ah!  A day off. It’s been a very busy two weeks.  Gray and cool out, the day’s line up includes a trip into the sewing room (freshly remodeled, more on that later).  Later, I’ll make jam of the apricots in the freezer and have lunch with a dear friend visiting from out-of-town.

This AM I’m nursing a full press pot of coffee and visiting the list of blogs I like to keep an eye on.

One in particular drew a smile and chuckle from me so I requested permission to share. I wish I could get a pic to move over  here from there.

Have a Visit to Twisted Yarn’s Garden Variety Crochet

Phil Saul, over at the Twisted Yarn, is the talent behind this whimsical, clever and creative project. I admire and am inspired by that.

My library of crochet includes a single crochet around edges. And that’s it.

My friend Grace got me started on the One Big Granny Square in March. I’m gonna need to Face Time her when I pick it back up to relearn the technique. There’s a pile of collected single skeins of colorful Noro Kureyon in waiting. IMG_0334

In the meantime, I’ll con’t to enjoy Phil’s talents.