Posted in giveaway, knitters, knitting, Knitting Giveaway

Our Knitting Stories: How Did You Learn to Knit? (Giveaway Completed)

A simple question led to stories – and memories. The question is this: How did you learn to knit? I asked it in my Ravelry group, and got permission to share some of the stories here. Many of us learned from a grandmother, mother, or auntie. Often we learned as youngsters, forgot about knitting for many years, and then rediscovered our skills as adults. These are a few of the stories. I hope you will enjoy them as much as I do. And be sure to read on to the end of the post to read about a giveaway. [Added February 11: we now have a giveaway winner, so further comments will not be eligible to win.]


The Stories

By GrandmaBuck:

When I was a wee little girl we lived just about a block from my paternal grandparents. Grandpa was the greatest and we had so much fun gardening with him and baking pies. Never had a pie as good as his ever. Grandma however had already raised 7 children and my dad was next to the youngest. My brother and I were his youngest and born when he was 38 and 40.  All that to say grandma was pretty old at the time we were little but whenever mom had business to take care of we would stay with grandma and grandpa. Whenever Grandpa was not at home Grandma would give Tom and me a ball of butcher”s twine and either a crochet hook or a pair of knitting needles. she would sit us down in front of her rocker and get us started on chaining or casting on just in time for SEARCH FOR TOMORROW to come on the radio. You could not talk when the show was on, period. She had a look that would turn you to ice. During commercials however she would compliment, correct or give further instructions. She had several soaps she listened to and I learned to knit and crochet at my grandma’s knee while listening to her programs. I know I knew how to knit with good tension by the time I was six because I taught my First grade teacher to knit. It has been on and off over my life but I still think of grandma when I am knitting and those easy times of childhood.

By WillowandTwist:

My mum was an excellent knitter and she taught me to knit when I was about 8 years old…I was one of those funny little kids who was always making things! I didn’t realise how much patience she had until I think about it now! I remember when I was about 13 years old making a tank-top as part of my school uniform, the yarn would have scratched the shell off a tortoise! Needless to say my tension was all over the place and it ended up a little on the wide side!!! Oh and did I say a bit short. I was in a rush to finish it…laughin… But I wore it with pride.

By kimmery:

Well—my Grandma Aeline was a knitter/crocheter, needle pointer and tatter and I never saw her just sit without a needlework project in her hands. When I was a little girl and my family would go to spend the weekend with my grandparents, as we would pull up towards their house (parked in the back) we would see her white hair in the window where she always sat-and we would always say, “Grandma is knitting her fool head off”. 🙂

I am 55 years old now and I can remember that like it was yesterday. When I was in junior high, she suffered a stroke after open heart surgery-and while she recovered enough to continue working on her needlework, she was sadly never able to really teach me to tat, which was what I longed to learn to do. Knitting was not an interest of mine at the time. I spent most of my early adult years immersed in cross-stitch but when my daughter (who had learned to knit) became pregnant with Grandbaby #1, she gave me a set of knitting lessons at a LYS–and just like that I became a knitter and have never looked back!

I just found a picture of my sister and I at Westport Washington with my Grandma with the beautiful white hair! Oh, and I am pretty sure we are wearing hand knit sweaters by her in this photo. (1966)

photo credit: kimmery

By cascott:

My first knitting experience was in 4-H. We knit slippers and I had the hardest time binding off, so that ended my knitting at that time. About 8 years ago a friend started knitting dishcloths and got me interested. I knit a lot of dishcloths until DH told me to find something else to knit as the drawer was full! (now my friends and family know just to ask for a dishcloth when they need a new one) I then found a club that mailed yarn and a pattern that had different techniques each month and I haven’t stopped knitting!

By torunnb:

I learned to knit when I was 4. My maternal grandmother taught me. I still have the ball of blue cotton yarn that we used. I have kept it as a treasure. My mom could knit, but she didn’t enjoy it much. She was an educated seamstress and she really liked to embroider. My maternal grandmother sewed and she always crocheted.

By Asteride:

My grandmother taught me to knit. She was really a knitting designer, she could realize whatever she wanted. Intrigued by techniques and very talented. I was just fascinated by all the things she was able to create. In my closet there is still a nice kimono jacket that she created for me.


I’ve loved reading each of these stories. I can just picture sitting at grandma’s knee listening to soaps on the radio, or a scratchy handknit tank top made by a 13-year-old and worn with pride. I can picture a white-haired grandma “knitting her fool head off,” a drawer full of handknit dishcloths, a treasured ball of cotton kept by a four-year-old who proudly learned to knit, and a lovely kimono made many years ago by a talented grandmother.

These, and all the others that have been posted our Ravelry group, are a gift. It’s so intriguing to hear the ways in which our craft is passed on from each generation to the next. And so often it is taught with love and joy. What’s your knitting story? How did you learn to knit? I’d love to hear about it.

I also love giveaways, so we’ll combine these two things. Leave a comment with your “How I Learned to Knit” story below, and I’ll choose a winner in about a week for a lovely skein of Malabrigo Arroyo in the Arco Iris colorway (similar to this one).  [Added February 11, in case you missed it above, the giveaway is now closed].

In fact, we are also having a giveaway in the Ravelry group. Post your story there, as well, for another chance to win.  There will be two winners – one there and one here. The instructions for the Ravelry group giveaway are at the top of that page…just look for the picture of the Malabrigo! Follow the link!

meetupbanner-960x150

 

 

Posted in knitted blanket, knitters, knitting, yarn

My favorite blanket – on size 50 (US) needles

AFGHAN 3This is one of my all-time favorite knitting projects.  You may think it looks somewhat old and ratty, and you’d be correct.  It’s just well-loved.  Actually, part of the reason is looks a bit beat up is because of one of the yarns I used, but more about that in a bit.

I love it because it was really quick and easy to make.  I made it when I was a fairly new knitter.

I love it because it is super-warm and comfortable, but because of the construction, it breathes and I don’t  get overheated.

It’s based on an article in the February 2008 issue from Knit ‘N Style by Leslye Solomon titled They’re So Big!!! about knitting with large needles.

This afghan was made with 7-9 strands of yarn knitted together at once, using 500-600 yards of each yarn. I cast on 36 stitches and worked in garter stitch. Whenever I got tired of any one yarn, I cut it and tied on a new different yarn.

My fancy system of keeping the yarns from tangling was to place each ball of yarn in a Ziploc bag, cut off one of the bottom corners, run the end of the yarn through the resulting hole, and seal the bag.

My rule in purchasing the yarns was that they needed to be white or off-white. Since I really knew nothing at the time about different yarns and their characteristics, it made shopping pretty easy. Yarns used included these (and I imagine many of them may now be discontinued): Bernat Satin Sport Solids, Lion Brand Moonlight Mohair, Lion Brand Jiffy Solid, Lane Cervinia Le Fibre Nobili Imperiale, and Bernat Soft Boucle. I also used something resembling thick and thin roving – but I have no idea now what it was. That was the yarn that pills so badly – but it surely did make the blanket warm and cushy soft. I also remember buying a yarn that was a raw silk blend.

There’s not much more information on my Ravelry project page, but here it is if you’d like to take a look.

I really do love this afghan and sleep under it every night. Using size 50 needles (25 mm) was a kick in the pants!  Working in garter stitch and changing out just one yarn at a time made things pretty easy. Changing a yarn when I started to get bored kept the work interesting. It’s definitely something to keep in mind if  you’re looking for something unique and different to make!

knit equals joy

P.S.  For reference, the largest needles in the photo are the orange needles, which are size 35 (19 mm). Size 50 needles are BIG!!!

Posted in Color, fiber festivals, knitters, knitting, Rhinebeck, yarn

Rhinebeck – All About the Yarn

img_0363

Rhinebeck, as the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival is known, is now a distant memory, but the yarn I brought home with me is a concrete reminder of a lovely weekend spent with friends. I wrote about the weekend here, and now I’m writing about the yarn I chose and why.

My first yarn purchase at Rhinebeck was from Weston Hill Farm. I discovered Weston Hill Farm on my first trip to Rhinebeck, in 2011. The yarn was luminous, natural, and I had never seen anything quite like it. I returned to their booth several times, finally buying a sweater’s worth of yarn for this Shalom Cardigan using only natural, undyed yarns. Weston Hill Farm’s yarn comprised the bulk of it.

natural-shalom

I’ve also used Weston Hills Farm yarns to make this Ebb Cowl (pattern by Susan B. Anderson)

ebb_at_arts_center-763x1024

and these Choose Your Own Cable Adventure Gloves which I test knitted for Aaron Bush

eileens-gloves-768x1024

The yarn I brought home this year from Weston Hills Farm is just as beautiful! It is luminous, soft and springy, and I love the colorways – beautiful, pure hues and subtle tonal solids.

whf-pinks3-1024x683
Weston Hill Farm – Worsted Weight
mtn-lake-pear-pink-1024x683
Weston Hill Farm – Mountain Lake, Pear

Weston Hill Farm is based out of Westerlo, New York. Eileen and I became friends following Rhinebeck 2011 – when I called to order a bit more yarn to finish that Shalom – and I always love to see the pictures  she shares on social media of the farm’s sheep: Romneys, Border Leicesters, and long wool cross sheep. This is Ailionora, a registered Romney ewe. Isn’t she adorable?

weston-hill-ewe
Ailionora, photo used by permission

Getting back to Rhinebeck – next on my quest for fiber, I picked up some lovely yarn by Solitude Wool.

solitude-wool-960x960Solitude Wool is based in Virginia and creates breed-specific yarns. Each skein lists the yarn’s fiber source as well as the yarn character, fiber content/care, length, size, suggested needles, gauge and batch.

Gradient and/or mini skein sets were all the rage at Rhinebeck, but I didn’t find one that I couldn’t pass up until I saw the Llama-rama mini skein bouquets at Solitude Wool. The yarn is 1/2 llama & 1/2 Romney, 2-ply/ fingering, 35 yds per color (210 yards total). The beautiful heathered colors are created by blending natural color llama with natural and dyed-in-the-wool Romney. It’s luminous, too.

llama-rama-1024x683
Llama-rama mini skein bouquet

I fell hard for this Alpaca/Merino. This fiber is a blend of 80% natural, undyed black and white alpaca with 20% natural and dyed-in-the wool Merino (2-ply/ lace weight, 275 yds, 2 oz). It is amazingly soft, and I absolutely love the muted purple tones. I think they had me at “elegant” in the description on the label. It has a great deal of depth, and I see more to love about it each time I look at it.

alpaca-merino-2-1024x683
Solitude Yarns Alpaca/Merino

The next yarn company that made me stop and stay awhile in their booth was North Light Fibers. North Light Fibers is a micro yarn mill based in Block Island, Rhode Island. We spent a lot of time in their booth just squishing the yarn – it all had an incredible hand. I was tempted by the cashmere – and it was amazing – but ended up with the Atlantic – 100% Falkland Island’s Wool (3-ply/Worsted, 170 yds, 2.5 oz). I snagged the exclusive colorway they created just for Rhinebeck, Blue Moon, a lovely periwinkle – one of my favorite colors ever. It will have excellent stitch definition, and will probably end up as cabled mitts.

north-light-fibers-blue-moon-1024x683
North Light Fibers Atlantic in Blue Moon

My final purchase of the weekend was from a Hudson Valley farm, Buckwheat Bridge Angoras. The farm raises Angora goats and Cormo sheep using sustainable practices. What caught my eye, however, were the painterly colorways. Beautiful!

buckwheat-bridge-angoras-960x960
Buckwheat Bridge Angoras 70/30

The blend is 70% Fine Kid Mohair and 30% Cormo Wool. The green colorway is 250 yds/4 oz. and the multi blue/yellow is finer at 200 yds/2 oz.

buckwheat-bridge-1024x683
Buckwheat Bridge Angoras 70/30

I’m always amazed at the wonderful yarn selection now available to fiber enthusiasts. When I think back to the yarns my mother used back in the 1970’s and 1980’s, I am so grateful for the natural fibers we can now so easily find. And now, when there are so many artists hand-dyeing their fibers in gorgeous colorways such as the ones that made it into my Rhinebeck shopping bag – with so many options, now is a great time to be a knitter!

knit equals joy

Posted in fiber festivals, knitters, knitting, Rhinebeck, yarn

Rhinebeck!

I was so fortunate to be able attend Rhinebeck last weekend!  For those of you not yet familiar with Rhinebeck, that’s the name knitters, crocheters, weavers, spinners, dyers and other fiber lovers have given to the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival, which takes place every October at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck, New York.

Going to Rhinebeck has become an annual affair for many.  For me, this was my second time attending, the first having been in 2011.  I wrote about that trip here: Fiber Festivals as Travel Destinations.

I attended Rhinebeck with my friends Meg and Jen, and we met up with other Ravelry friends while at the festival (see picture below).  We also had a great meet-up with our friend Alex and her mom, but I didn’t end up with the meet-up picture. We lucked out with lovely accommodations in Kingston. We had mixed results with our dinner in Kingston. But in the end, it came down to good company and lots of fun, fibery goodness.

Reports I’ve read state that about 30,000 people attended on Saturday.  It was a bit crowded for me, but good for people watching and scoping out the yarn.  Sunday was much more comfortable, the lines were much shorter and you could move around in the artists’ booths.  I made no purchases on Saturday and none until about the last hour we were there on Sunday. I was sorely tempted all weekend by qiviut, the fine undercoat of the muskox and the softest fiber I’ve ever touched, but finally decided against it.  I love locally sourced yarn, and that is mostly what I ended up with.

Now we come to the fun part, which is lots of pictures of Rhinebeck and pictures of the yarn!

arrival-at-rhinebeck-1024x683
Arriving in Rhinebeck
fall-day-at-rhinebeck-649x832
Fall is in the air at Rhinebeck
dog-bowl-of-fries-1024x617
Fair food – while I didn’t have any of this, I did have maple cotton candy – delish!
happy-rhinebeckers-1024x741
Happy Rhinebeckers
passport-mitts-in-the-wild-1024x683
Passport Mitts in the wild! Made by Meg, Jen, and Alex
sunday-morning-drive-to-rhinebeck-1024x683
Sunday morning drive to Rhinebeck
4h-1024x683
4-H dad talks to Jen about raising Shetland sheep. They are social animals and have to be sold in groups of two or more – at least in NY.
shetland-sheep-1024x683-2
This little guy was about six months old. He was so cute!
And the fiber!!!

(Click on the pictures with a yarn source named in the caption to go to each one’s website.)

blues-greens-960x720

buckwheat-bridge-angoras-960x960
Buckwheat Bridge Angoras. Love the colorways! The top one reminds me of Van Gogh and the bottom one is a luscious green.
north-light-fibers-960x960
North Light Fibers Atlantic in Blue Moon – Rhinebeck exclusive color…more of a periwinkle
solitude-wool-960x960
Solitude Wool lovelies
weston-hill-farm-sport-weight-960x720
Weston Hill Farm Hand Dyed Sport Weight in Pear and Mountain Lake
weston-hill-farm-worsted-weight-960x960
Weston Hill Hand Dyed Worsted Weight in Peony and New Dawn Rose

pink-periwinkle-720x960

llama-rama-mini-skein-bouquet-960x960

Thanks for letting me share my impressions with you. It was a wonderful weekend – and best of all was the time spent with old and new friends!

knit equals joy

Posted in knitting, Wordless Wednesday, yarn

Wordless Wednesday: Yarn Shops

I have found local yarn shops to be, often, little oases of beauty. It makes sense, really, that the owners might have an artistic sensibility and would create a lovely space to be. Here, then, I share some images of my favorites with you.

FB_IMG_1459939876351
In Muttenz, Switzerland, copyright Mary Williams, used by permission.
Happy Knits Window
Happy Knits, Portland, Oregon
In The Wind Yarns Cozy Nook
In the Wind Yarns, Gleneden Beach, Oregon
Tangled Purls Christmastime
Tangled Purls, Salem, Oregon
Gossamer
Gossamer, Bend, Oregon

 I have a few more favorites, but, for various reasons, don’t have photos right now.  Those favorites include Knot Another Hat in Hood River, Oregon and Close Knit and the Knitting Bee in Portland, Oregon. All great places to spend an hour or an afternoon!

Posted in giveaway, knitting, Portland, Ravelry, Rose City Yarn Crawl, yarn

Giveaway Details

Hello dear knitters!  Here’s the post with all the juicy details about the giveaway going on in my Ravelry group, Carol E Herman Designs.  Not a member of Ravelry?  It’s free and easy to join.  It is a terrific resource for fiber enthusiasts.

All of these lovelies were purchased last weekend at the Rose City Yarn Crawl. It was so much fun shopping for locally made fiber products. The Pacific Northwest truly has a strong creative community, and it is a joy to share a little bit of that with you.
Giveaway Grand Prize

My only goal while shopping the Yarn Crawl was to find skeins of yarn that caught my eye…oh, and I was looking for yarn in a PDX Carpet colorway.  The first store I went to was Twisted, and right away I found it.  Score!!

The Details.

1. Knitted Wit Victory Fingering.

I love this yarn!   It’s the yarn I used (in Golden Delicious) for my Metolius River Mitts.  It is amazingly sproingy, works up wonderfully, and comes in terrific colorways. I love how this colorway picks up the colors in the original PDX Carpet.

100% Superwash Merino, 4 ounces, 380 yards, in PDX Carpet.  Purchased at Twisted.Knitted Wit

2. A PDX Carpet notions bag by Rose City Totes.

This was purchased earlier, but inspired the theme of this giveaway grand prize. Interested in the PDX Carpet iconic design? Read here.PDX Carpet

3. Rosewood cable needles.

Lovely cable needles made in Eugene. Rosewood Cable Needles2

4. Black Trillium Fibres Pebble Sock.

This is lovely yarn.  I bought a similar skein for myself, in a slightly less blue-toned colorway, and I can’t wait to see how it works up.

100% Superwash Merino, 100 grams, 380 yards in a one of a kind colorway.  Purchased at Happy Knits.Black Trillium

5. Bumblebirch Heartwood.

I have heard whispers about this yarn.  I have heard people waxing rhapsodic about it. It is truly, truly, lovely.  The colorways have depth and the bases have a very pleasing hand.

4-ply fingering weight, 100 grams, 463 yds, 75% Superwash Merino/25% nylon in Glacier. Purchased at Close Knit.bumblebirch

6.   One of a Kind Buttons button.

I was fortunate to make it to the One of a Kind trunk show at the Knitting Bee.  Artist Candace Wilson designs these lovely buttons, and I got to chat with her for awhile. Her story is great, as are her buttons!  This is the one I chose:DSCN9678

7. Blissful Knits Sublime Yak.

This yarn is just stunning.  It is shimmery and just plain gorgeous! Truly exquisitely crafted.

Sockweight, 60% Superwash Merino/20% Silk/20% Yak, 3.5 oz., 400 yds in the colorway Abyss.    Purchased at the Knitting Bee .Blissful Knits

How to win? Join my Ravelry group and leave a comment in The Cafe thread. Every post is an entry. I’ll draw a winner by random number generator after The Cafe thread reaches 5,000 posts.  I hope that you will come join us!

Thank you for your support.

xoxo, Carol

knit equals joy