Friday, August 26, 2011


Many knitters already know the benefits of participating in a Knit-Along (KAL), and, knitting as long as I have, you would think I would have this down pat. Last year I did cast on for a sweater on a shared birthday with a knitting friend who lives in Colorado, but we were knitting different patterns, and her sweater turned out wonderful and mine is finished but hanging in neglected shame in my closet.

This year, however, I have another knitting friend in Atlanta who came up with an idea to have a KAL with me and my 14yo knits-better-than-me daughter. I was charmed by the idea of knitting a bag with a buddy in the next state, despite it being a project destined for felting, something I've purposely avoided thus far. And then she GAVE us the yarn for the project and, well, how could I say no? It's been so fun, to do, too. Despite our starting a bag made of wool/mohair July 1st and knitting through the two warmest months in a summer of record high temps, that is. Some things you have to chalk up to Hazards of the Hobby.

Having a project that you share with a friend is one way to make knitting less isolated and thus more fun. Finally you have someone with whom you can complain about the pattern/yarn/stitches and they don't glaze over with incomprehension! You might, like I do, have the chance to attempt a technique you have been hesitant about, allowing the peer pressure of the KAL to stretch your ability. You have little built-in deadlines that keep the project from languishing when the initial excitement wears off a bit. And if you're competitive, it gives you a chance to knit to the next deadline first for bragging rights. Just don't brag too much, because these are your knitting friends, after all.

If you've never participated in a KAL, I highly recommend it. And if you're looking for a KAL with some history thrown in, I've got just the thing. I signed up for a
19th-Century Doll KAL, to be held Saturday, September 17 at the Charleston Museum. The project is based on a hand-written pattern in the museum archives, and includes a special showing of items from the Museum's knitted and crocheted collection. My daughter is so excited about this she intends to make two. I did mention that she knits better than I do, didn't I?

Friday, August 05, 2011

Purse knitting workshop

History. It's where we all come from.

Knitting. It's what most of us wish we were doing right now.

Combining the two is easier than you think. The Charleston Museum is offering a knitting workshop featuring a modern take on a vintage design. A miser's purse was a popular choice for the smartly dressed Victorian gal, and if the purses in the Museum's collection are any indication, everyone had their own unique style of knitting (or crocheting) one. Since I don't crochet, I wrote knitting patterns for this venture. Three of them! All similar, but different, like the purses in the Museum. And I can't wait to see what the knitters who get hold of these patterns come up with!

If you can cast on, bind off, knit and purl, and you'd like to spend a morning with some awesome knitters at America's first museum, you can register HERE or call 843.722.2996, X 235.

Advance reservations are required. $20/members, $25/non-members.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Simple Knitting-book review

My criteria for loving a knitting book are simple.
1) Good photography. Yes, I like to look at the pictures. Knitting is visual and if I can't see the finished project or the stitch lesson, it makes me nervous.
2)Projects that meet expectations. This one varies from book to book. For Simple Knitting, I expect simpler projects that take into account a beginner's skill levels. For a book that purports to have more advanced work in it (like Stitch n' Bitch Superstar Knitting: Go Beyond the Basics--another book I love) I expect more advanced projects with the appropriate information to tell me how to knit it.
3) Projects I want to knit. And lots of them, preferably!
4) Clear directions. Need I elaborate?
5) Good attitude. Can you believe I've read knitting books that talked down to knitters? Sad, but true. If the author of the book can't be positive and encouraging and friendly, why bother.

Extras~~Things that put a knitting book over the top.
1) Amazing color palette. Simple Knitting has so many beautiful yarns used in the examples and projects; neutrals mostly, and the design of the book incorporates this well. It makes for a pleasing overall color palette.
2) Classic design. Maybe it's because I'm not a very trendy person myself, but I like a book that has patterns that will stand the test of time. Or maybe I'm just realistic about how long it will take me to knit that super trendy sweater, knowing full well that it will be so last year (or last decade!) by the time the wearer receives it.

Because I love knitting so much, finding a wonderful knitting book is little like meeting a new knitting friend--someone else who "gets it." Simple Knitting is one of those who "gets it"--completely.