Tuesday, October 31, 2006


I love Autumn and I also love these felted wonders!! Joy made the really cute pumpkin. She knitted it and felted it. (The pattern is at knitty.com). The gorgeous leaf was needle felted by Trish. Thanks for sharing ladies! Happy Halloween ~Shirani

What a difference blocking can make!!

I've been playing around with some different lace patterns looking for something just right for a Lace Stole class this winter. (The pattern will also work as a table runner!!!) Here is a swatch of the old french Chatelaine lace done in Jaggerspun Zephr. This crinkly swatch is "as knit."

The thing while knitting lace is just to trust that eventually it will be pretty.

Then it's a COMPLETE leap of faith when you actually wet the thing and it looks like a wet, knotted mess that couldn't possibly be salvaged:

And then, ta da!!! You pin it out and it looks like you can actually knit!!!

Then you smile and think all that time spent doing the yarn over thing and scowling at the chart was TOTALLY worth it! So what I'm really wondering is... would any of you like to take an intermediate lace class?? It would be something like a weekly 90 minute class spread over 4-6 weeks. I'd teach you the pattern and be there along the way to help with problems and cheer you along. You'll definitely move into some advanced knitting and by the end of the class you'll have created a lovely heirloom piece that you or someone you love will treasure!

We're working on the new class schedule now, so any feedback will be really helpful.

Yours in knitting,

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Rita's Bag

Rita finished her Lucy bag, and it turned out GREAT!! She used 3 skeins of cascade 220 and added a little bit of novelty yarn to make some stripes. Because she knit the bag with only 1 strand, as the pattern directed, her bag is a lot smaller than Shirani's. I think Rita said it measured out to be 13x13. Isn't the handle cool?

Yours in knitting,

Friday, October 27, 2006

More of those "fetching" gloves

I'm wondering, do they mean fetching as in attractive, or fetching in the sense that one can fetch things while wearing them??

Anyway, here's yet another pair begun, this time with the channel island cast-on. (I'm trying to apply my newly learned skill...) Note the cute little knots along the edge. The idea I had in using this cast-on was that it sort of mirrors the picot bind-off at the top of the glove. Very fetching, don't you think?

Enjoy the weekend: rain and high winds predicted - the perfect time to hunker down with some wool.

Yours in yarn,

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Check out the Noro yarn at Cultured Purl

Shirani's been reorganizing all the Noro yarn in the shop. And let me tell you, there's tons of the gorgeous stuff!!! The colors and quality of the wool make it hard for Shirani to stop adding to their inventory. I know it's one of the brands she's selling online.

The Kureyon, 100% wool, and the Silk Garden, a wool/silk blend, are my personal favorites. I'm using them in my felted Lucy bags. And I'm dying to making this Kureyon throw.... Here are pictures of some other project ideas.

I especially love this cardigan.

Next week we're starting the Noro Hooded Striped Baby Jacket class. It's done from the hood down, all in one piece. Stop in to see the sample and think about signing up!!

Yours in yarn,

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

I stopped by the yarn shop today...

and I spent a wonderful hour chatting and knitting with Chris, Daren, Trish, and Maria (along with Shirani & Sue of course and Rita was there for a bit but had to leave; and Leo had a few things to say too.)

One of the absolute NICEST things about Cultured Purl, (besides having access to the most luscious yarns and knitting supplies imaginable!), is the feeling of community that exists there. A lot of that certainly has to do with Sue's kindness and Shirani's colorful spirit and warmth, but over time the customers who hang out there and knit and chat with us, become more than customers: they become part of the Cultured Purl family, bringing a lovely camaraderie and vibrancy to the shop that creates a personal place of belonging for all of us. Cultured Purl has its own personality that is growing and changing in lovely ways as the customers stop being customers and become friends. And I am so glad to be a part of that!!!!

Am I too gushy?? I feel a little gushy. But I was very touched today. I have lived in Erie for 9 years, and my closest family is a 6-hour drive away. And while I have made great friends here over the years, there is something special about Cultured Purl that eases the absence of family too far away. It's lovely to know that there's a warm, wonderful place, filled with charming, friendly people, where I can go and always be welcomed and made to feel at home.

As we chatted today over our knitting, telling stories and laughing, I was reminded of something Virginia Woolf wrote:

"What is it that lights the soul? Not the spark of brilliance, but the rich yellow glow of rational discourse."

Thanks ladies, for the good conversation today!!

Yours in knitting,

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Practice vs Practise

It's been pointed out by someone near and dear to me that I spelt a word wrong in yesterday's blog. (I'm looking at "spelt" and wondering about that but I don't have a dictionary handy...) And when I refused to fix the error, it was suggested that I might appear to some readers to be "academically challenged." (The actual word of choice was stu___d, but I discourage the use of that word in our house....) But here's the thing- I DID spell the verb "practice" with an S for about 25 years, blissfully ignorant of the fact that in America there is no spelling differentiation between the verb and the noun. Now I do it on purpose.

One of my mother's (many, many) virtues is that she was born in England. I was too, but I'd moved to America by the time I'd hit my vocally-formative years. But Mum grew up there and to this day retains her lovely British accent. So I grew up in a transplanted English household and spelt all kinds of words as they do across the lake. For example, it wasn't until an Art History paper was returned to me my freshman year at College of the Holy Cross with angry red marks through all my "colours" that I learned there is no "U" in that word... Those erudite Jesuits atop Mount St James apparently had no issue with practise, because it wasn't until much later I learned of that spelling foible.

So I decided that I'd continue to spell the verb with an "S" (the British use a "C" for the noun form of the word...) as a sweet reminder of my heritage. It's part of who I am.

And now that I've cleared that up, I'm going to go practise the German Twisted cast-on.

Yours in yarn, from both sides of the lake,


Sunday, October 22, 2006

Advanced Cast-on Techniques: Channel Island Cast-On

Here is an slightly unclear picture of the classic Channel Island cast-on with single rib. In fact, it's so hard to see, I may edit this post later and replace it with a better picture...

But for now...

The Channel Island cast-on.

This weekend found me with a little time and a lot of curiosity, and I put both to use playing around with different cast-on techniques. I am thinking about putting together a series of advanced technique classes for the winter and one of the things I'd like to share is how to master the beautiful tubular cast-on and corresponding tubular (kitchener) bind-off. Both create an incredibly lovely edge for single or double rib. While there are several ways to achieve the tubular cast-on, the fastest method, using two strands, has proved elusive for many. So I've been investigating another approach which uses a provisional cast-on that may be easier to learn in class.

While looking for on-line references, I came across the CLEAREST instructions for Channel Island cast-on that I've ever seen. It creates a lovely selvedge edge of tiny picot knots when used with stockinette stitch. And it is truly spectacular in single rib. Channel Island Cast-On

After practising a few gazillion stitches, I felt a sense of peace wash over me. You think I'm joking but I'm not.... It's an amazing thing to knit a stitch that was invented hundreds of years ago by women on a couple of small islands off the coast of Normandy, to make sweaters of such beauty and function that they earned their own name: the Guernsey (or Gansey).

Back in Elizabethan times, knitting was a huge industry on these tiny, sunny, English islands where there was an abundance of sheep. In fact, knitting was so popular that a government ordinance in 1603 forbade men to knit during the summer months because the harvest was rotting. The Channel Island knitters were incredibly skillful and they made amazingly intricate designs in thick, oiled wool sweaters which fisherman wore out to sea. The legend is that every design was different so that when an unlucky fisherman washed ashore, he could be identified by the pattern of his sweater. One of the design elements was a beautiful cast-on edge of tiny picot knots, now known today around the world as the Channel Island Cast-On.

While knitting is the toddler of the textile industry, what's so endearing about it is the way in which different cultures arrived at the same end result using completely different techniques. Today, in our global world, we have the German Twisted cast-on, the Italian two-strand cast-on, the old Norwegian cast-on, the Channel Island cast-on, to name just a few. All beautiful, functional, and unique, but all leading to the same fabric: the knitted stitch.

When I worked that cast-on today, I felt a sense of place in this world. I was making something lovely that had been passed down for hundreds of years - from grandmother to mother to daughter - on a small island in the middle of a sea, and finally out to the global knitting community. Doesn't it feel great to be a part of that community?!

Yours in knitting,

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Shirani's Lucy Bag turned out GREAT!!

I stopped by Cultured Purl quickly today and saw Shirani's just-felted Lucy bag. It was still wet from the washer, but it shrunk to a really attractive shape and the colors merged beautifully in the felting process. What's interesting is the way the different wools she used felted. The stripes are lovely. Maybe, if you're reading this Shirani, you'll post a picture of your bag??

My red bag is coming along too. I've stopped while I wait for some chocolate brown cascade to arrive to do the handle in something different. Meanwhile, since I have HOURS and HOURS of available knitting time backstage at Arthur's Halloween, (this week-10 show in 5 days)I've started a second bag in turquoise and some red & gold Silk Garden. Hmmmmmmm, this sounds familiar, did I write about this already....

Anyway, I am just having a BLAST knitting this bag!!!!! the yarn is incredibly beautiful and the project flies along on 10 1/2 needles. I wish I had pictures here to show you, but I've been SO busy with the Arthur thing...but alright, I'm gonna do the stagemom thing: all my energy these last two weeks has gone into this little cherub, at the playhouse on Opening Night with Erie's own Marc Brown:

Thanks for smiling! He's even cuter in his fluffy ears and red collar. But I digress...

Back to the bag. Stop in this week and take a peek at Shirani's creation. And if you've already made one, bring it to show us!! Looking for a winter project? Think about signing up for this class: The more the merrier!

Yours in yarn,

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Women's Expo

We participated in the Women's Expo, held at Family First last weekend and we want to thank everybody that stopped by our booth. It was good to see familiar faces and to make new acquaintances. We had not participated in this event and didn't know what to expect. We were happy to see so many women supporting local businesses. Hope to see you soon in our shop.

Knitted Friends

I was never really a fan of knitted toys, or that's what I thought.... In April my son was born and among the booties and sweaters, he received these knitted toys. I just think they are all so cute. The one on the right was going to be a cat but turned out to be Humpty Dumpty which is perfect.
(oops, I forgot the cupcake, I will have to post a photo of it later. It is from the One Skein book and it is perfect for tea parties, a little knitted delight.)

Monday, October 16, 2006

Another knitting perk: there's always something new to learn.

One of the best things about knitting is that it's known to keep our minds sharp. So not only do we get to make beautiful, durable, useful things using lovely fibers, but we stay mentally agile as we do it!!! Someone posted a comment today in reference to a previous post I wrote on right-side seaming. I had been lamenting on how long it had taken me to see the mattress-stitch "light" and he or she replied that sometimes we just need to trust directions and do what books say, even though we can't imagine the authors know what they're talking about. I have to say I agree 100%.

That comment got me thinking about how so often we learn something like a craft and then think we know everything and we stop learning. Why do we limit ourselves? Why do we so often get into a comfort zone thinking there couldn't be a better way? We need to always remember to think outside the box, grow as knitters, learn from those experts who have honed their skills over the years. Just today, in my Shrug class, a knitter mentioned how her mother had knit when she was little, and her mother's mother before her, and how glad she was to have inherited some of their knitting gadgets. I was reminded of a story my late grandmother used to tell me about knitting a blue dress under the watchful eye of her German grandmother - how hard she'd worked, how much she'd learned, the skill her grandmother had used when gently fixing her mistakes, and how proud they'd both been of the finished garment. What a wealth of knowledge exists out there, all gleaned from love of craft!!

Thank you, Anonymous, for that thought-provoking comment!! Keep the ideas coming!!

Yours in knitting,

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Lucy Bags

After weeks of working on size 3 double pointed needles....it's incredibly rewarding to switch to a project that uses 2 strands of yarn and size 11s!!! When Shirani showed me the progress she was making on her Lucy Bag, I just had to jump off the Christmas ship and get started on a bag of my own. Shirani is using a variety of leftover wools from her private collection. I'm using a dark red (the colors appear paler in these pictures than they really are,)worked together with a self-striping Noro Kureyon.

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My bag appears to be a lot smaller than Shirani's, but looking here at the stitch gauge, they seem similar so I'm hoping mine will turn out large and tote-like too once it's felted. Normally, I don't make felted bags because I prefer the look of the knitted stitch over the boiled wool look. But I am LOVING this bag so much, I've already picked out the yarn for another one :)

Knitting this bag is easy and relaxing: a total de-stresser!! The handles do a cool little wrap thing giving the finished bag a very unique and fun look. I'm going to teach this as a class this winter, so think about signing up.

Yours in knitting,


ps. Cultured Purl will be closed this Saturday. So stop by today if you need anything for your weekend knitting.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Isn't it annoying when LIFE gets in the way of knitting?

I'm delinquent with my blogging duties... I taught the Cast-On Technique class Monday night. And I would be teaching the Beginner Sweater Class this Friday, but we're rescheduling it till January. A nice SUPER chunky, top-down wooly sweater project to snuggle up with during those long winter evenings...think about it!!

AND, Shirani and I are both knitting the Lucy Bag out of various feltable wools - I'm using a ruby red Cascade with some colorful self-striping Noro in olive, coffee, and lavender; Shirani is making an absolutely gorgeous concoction of her own design drawn from her stash of leftover wools. The bags are knitting up REALLY REALLY fast. I'll post pictures soon.

But what's really keeping us busy are the URCHINS we live with!!! Shirani's getting NO SLEEP these days with that sweet, and very Alert, babe, and I'm rushing between dance classes, cross country meets, dance classes, Playhouse dress rehearsals (Arthur's Halloween opens Friday), oh and did I mention DANCE CLASSES? But that's what it's really all about, right? What fun would knitting be if we could do it uninterrupted, at our leisure, without pausing mid YO to meet the needs of our littlest ones!!

Well mine are all tucked in snug, for the moment at least, so I'm off to sneak in another couple of rows...

Yours in yarn,

Monday, October 09, 2006

Computer woes...

I've been unable to post, let alone share photos, all weekend because I've been grappling with a computer virus. 16 hours of scans and 4 hours of phone conversation with the cable company has (sort of) resolved the issue - turns out the culprit snuck in attached to some SMILEY FACES my daughter downloaded Saturday... The painful part isn't the ache in my neck from holding the phone at my shoulder while banging on the keyboard with both hands - useless really. The real pain is: All that lost knitting time.

Now I've got to get ready for the Techniques class tonight - Cast on Methods. (Did you know there are at least 40 different ways to cast on??) Check back later to get an update on how the For Women Only Expo went this weekend.

Yours in knitting,

Friday, October 06, 2006

Here it is!!!!

Take a look at Daren's lovely afghan. All she has left is the crocheted edge, but it already looks GORGEOUS, don't you think? We are so proud of Daren and ALL the afghan block ladies who have been working on these blocks since March!

We'll be starting another set of these classes after Christmas, so stop by and sign up!

Yours in yarn,

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Autumn Knitting

This is my favorite time of year: When the mornings are dark, the days turn cooler, and the rain never seems to stop. Fall has arrived in Northwest Pennsylvania, and it's time to get serious about Holiday Knitting!

Every year I make a plan for knitting Christmas gifts that never seems to come to fruition. But this is the year!! I have the plan. I have the wool. I have great patterns that are fun to knit. (I can't really tell you any details here because one or two of the recipients might be reading...) But I have a list, I'll tell you that- lists are key for me, just ask my family. A list on paper, and two items are ALREADY CROSSED OFF!!!!!

Stop by Cultured Purl this weekend - Sue & Shirani will be at the For Women Only Expo and I'll be holding down the yarn shop fort. I'd love the company and I'll show you my list and get you started with your holiday knitting. And the nicest thing about knitting gifts isn't the wool or the needles or the fall weather. It's that for a not-so-insignificant period of my life, I get to relax with a project and spend quality time thinking about the person I'm making my handknit treasure for!!!

Yours in knitting,

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Our Recent Afghan Block Class

This was cultured purl's maiden voyage into the afghan block class. It was generally smooth sailing but occasionally we hit some rough seas.

The students learned how to make lace, bobbles, cables, and read charts. I think we learned just as much from them over the seven months. Thanks for your patience and your suggestions.
I can't wait to see the finished products! Good job ladies.