Figure It Out Friday

The yarn over stitch for English knitters

Today is a continuation from last week’s thoughts on the series of stitches: [yo, sl1, k1, psso].  The confusion comes for those of us who are English Knitters (hold our working yarn in our right hand). This simple stitch wracks our brains! Time to break it down. The essence of a yarn over stitch is to add a stitch between two already established stitches. If you think of the mechanic of this stitch, and the fact that you are adding a stitch, SOME of the confusion surrounding this stitch can be eliminated.

The yarn over stitch is abbreviated as yo. It functions differently depending upon the stitch prior to and following the yarn over. Here are four variations:

  • Yarn Over (between 2 knit stitches): abbreviated as [k1, yo, k1] When you get to the point where it says yo, bring your yarn to the front and then proceed with the following knit stitch KEEPING YOUR WORKING YARN IN THE FRONT. This series of stitches, I feel, would be better abbreviated for English knitters as [k1, k1wyif].
  • Yarn Over (between 2 purl stitches): abbreviated as [p1, yo, p1] When you get to the point where it says yo, your working yarn will already be at the front because you just purled a stitch. Next, take your working yarn (which is in the front), wrap it over and around your right needle and back to the front again (counter-clockwise wrap). Proceed with your next purl stitch. In this case, I think of the yarn over as a wrapping of the yarn over and around the needle.
  • Yarn Over (between a knit stitch and a purl stitch): abbreviated as [k1, yo, p1] When you get to the point were it says yo, you  need to bring your working yarn to the front, and then wrap it again around the needle in counter-clockwise motion ending with the working yarn in front again. Proceed with the purl stitch.
  • Yarn Over (between a purl stitch and a knit stitch): abbreviated as [p1, yo, k1] When you get to the point where it says yo, your working yarn will be in the front of your work because of the purled stitch you just made. Keeping your working yarn in the front, simply just knit the next stitch. I feel that this series of stitches would be better abbreviated as [p1, k1wyif].

Here’s a quick video illustrating each of the above yarn over combinations. Hope this clarifies some confusion with such a bugger of a stitch. Happy Friday! Happy knitting!

Figure It Out Friday

After many hours deciphering endless knitting abbreviations; trying to make sense of what exactly I needed to accomplish with my needles and yarn, a revelation enlightened me: I’m not alone! I often feel that knitters everywhere know how to do every stitch possible and I’m the only one left in the dark. And furthermore, just because I figured out an abbreviation once, doesn’t mean I remember what to do when I stumble upon that same cryptic code once again. And so, today, I begin the first of many “Figure It Out Friday’s”. This will be a place where I share my knitting confusions and revelations. Hopefully clarifying the roadblocks I stumble upon in my everyday knitting.

Today’s tutorial is a clarification for English Knitters. I’ve stumbled upon the following series of stitches in lace work: (Yo sl1 k1 psso) This was extremely confusing for me, as I naturally wanted to do the first instruction in the series first! I was forever trying to yarn over at the beginning of this series. What I didn’t realize at the time is that this series of stitches is carried out differently depending upon whether you are an English knitter or a Continental Knitter (threat topic for another Friday).  And rather than write out the instructions, take a peek at today’s video. Hopefully this sheds some insightful light! Follow this link to view today’s Figure It Out Friday tutorial of yo sl1 k1 psso. Hope you got it figured out! Happy Friday! Happy Knitting!

Irish Eyes Are Smiling…

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling – performed by The Irish Tenors

I’ve never read the lyrics for When Irish Eyes Are Smiling until today, and feel like I’ve been cheated of something my whole life! How has this song not been a forever favorite? Reading the lyrics reaffirms that I love all things Irish:

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, sure ’tis like a morn in spring.
In the lilt of Irish laughter, you can hear the angels sing.
When Irish hearts are happy, all the world seems bright and gay,
And When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, sure, they steal your heart away.
There’s a tear in your eye and I’m wondering why,
For it never should be there at all.
With such power in your smile, sure a stone you’d beguile,
So there’s never a teardrop should fall,
When your sweet lilting laughter’s like some fairy song
And your eyes twinkle bright as can be.
You should laugh all the while and all other times smile,
And now smile a smile for me.
For your smile is a part of the love in your heart,
And it makes even sunshine more bright.
Like the linnet’s sweet song, crooning all the day long.
Comes your laughter so tender and bright.
For the springtime of youth is the sweetest of all,
There is ne’er a real care or regret.
And while springtime is ours, throughout all of youth’s hours,
Let us smile each chance we get.

I joke on St. Patrick’s Day that I’m a total Irish-WannaBe. Things like, “kiss me, I’m the only one NOT IRISH in my family” or “I love an Irishman”.

It’s true, I love all things Irish. I enjoy good Irish beers. I make a mean reuben always paired with a mint shake. I watch Irish dancing, and feel that clogging was probably my former life’s work. I swoon at the sound of an Irish brogue. And Irish melodies melt my soul. And yet, I’m not Irish. Good thing I married an Irishman, though; to pass on these lovely traditions to my own children is a delight.

I spent the morning perusing green and orange patterns on Ravely. I don’t remember the last time I simply sat down on Ravelry and just looked. Usually, I go to ravelry looking for something specific and don’t have the luxury of just looking. What a treat this morning was! So many beautiful creations. So many fun things to knit. My inventive juices wished I had hundreds of people knitting for me, as the visions of new creations flooded my mind! Instead, I happily skimmed pages and pages of patterns, and watched as green and orange jumped out at me. Here’s what I found:

Red_red_wine_2_small2 Rob Roy by Thea Colman. I was not surprised one iota to find that Thea had designed this great hat. I’m not certain I’ve seen one design by her that isn’t beautiful. The spiced orange decorated with the contrasting poof is brilliant. Great color combination. The slouch is ideal in my book, and I’m a sucker for wider brims. It’s perfection in my book.

003_small2 Three Color Cashmere Cowl by Joji Locatelli. Again, not a surprise to find that this was again designed by Joji. I knit a great hat by her a few years ago and loved everything about it. This cowl jumped out at me due to the color and stitch combinations. It’s really a brilliant piece – something I like to call knitting ADD. Really, so often I get “bored” with larger knit projects, because it’s often the same stitch pattern over and over again. Which is great for mindless knitting, and not having to be married to a pattern for what seems like an eternity. This seems ideal to me. Just when you might be getting bored of the color or stitch, she switches it up. And the end result is a great piece full of texture and color. The green may not be exactly what I’d call Kelly Green, but it caught this IrishByProxyGirl’s eye!

Rossbeg_small2 Rossbeg by Carol Feller. This just melts my heart.  A great Irish Cable sweater for a lil’ swee pea. Beautiful color, interesting movement of cables, looks like a top-down one piece (easy knit). Love the choice for closures. I’d love this in a big-girl size!

 Leighton by Alison Green. Socks seem to be popping up all over my radar. I haven’t knit socks in, well since I knit this exact pair (these were my first sample knit for Berroco). Sometimes they took on a blue tinge, other times they were defintiely green. But again, a great accessory to show off delicate and intricate Irish Cablework. They scream to be paired with a great skirt.

 Finally, The Fisherman Stocking by Mary Thomas b1934. This is a pattern I found over 10 years ago and began knitting for our family Christmas stockings. It’s an heirloom pattern and a pleasure to knit.

Can’t wait to continue creating…Éirinn go Brách!


Look At This Stuff…

” look at this stuff, isn’t it neat? Wouldn’t you think my collection’s complete?” –  Part Of Your World, The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid is an interesting phenomenon – a Disney animated movie that stole my heart as a young 10 year old; singing Part of Your World over and over and over again as my fingers followed along on the ivories (literally – my parents had an old up-right piano given to them with original ivory keys!).  After 27 years, the piano hopefully found a home with another eager 10 year old,  but the book remains with me! The binding completely wasted away, but the pages found a new home in a folder among other very much loved music. Who knew years would pass and I would once again be captured by this same tale, this time; however, adapted by a composer that tugs at my Czech heart-strings: Dvorak. Dvorak wrote Rusalka around 1900, with it’s first public performance in 1901. My most favorite aria comes from this opera: Rusalka’s song to the moon. I haven’t had the joy of singing this over and over again at my piano, but perhaps someday I’ll find a time to do a recital performance of this piece. Bucket list.

And speaking of mermainds…knit mermaid tail blankets have popped up all over the internet. My girls somehow caught glimpse of one, and of course it found it’s way to their 2016 Christmas list. The yarn purchased months ago, and I’m just now starting to create something that will hopefully resemble a mermaid tail. I scoured images online, hoping to find something I could simply whip up and make from pattern, but nothing passed approval. Disappointing in one sense, but encouraging to know that I will hopefully introduce something new and unique to this exploding blanket phenomenon. I hoped for a quick-knit project, and although not exactly shaping up to be such, the stitch pattern is turning out better than anticipated! Slightly accidental?

Which leads me to construction techniques…I like to “plan”, draw out the project, calculating most likely steps while always leaving room for adaptations along the way. This project does not follow the norm. It is very much fly-by-my-seat. Knit along the way. Cross my fingers it turns out. It is a total experimental knit. Right now, I have no idea what’s going to happen at the tail, but I’ll worry about that when the time comes.

I just finished a fall preview piece for Berroco, and I always enjoy  knitting for them, as it’s a great opportunity to learn other’s design techniques, how pieces can be assembled and created. I’m intrigued… are you fly-by-your-seat, or calculate-to-the-last-stitch? Perhaps a combination of both? This is definitely a fly-by-my-seat, and much to my surprise, I’m OK with that! As proven with my AlexaRae mittens, uncertainties, and miscalculations often create beauty. I’m thinking this create-by-intuition technique, coupled with good knitting knowledge, is breaking down my “safe knitting walls” and expanding my knitting horizons. It’s totally neat.

Isn’t She Lovely…

Isn’t She Lovely – Stevie Wonder

“What’s that fabulous bag in the background of yesterday’s post?” So glad you asked! It is rather wonderful and I’m more than happy to share with you how fabulous it really is.

This is a large project bag, created by Jennifer, the owner of Ellison Lane Handmade. Check out her Etsy sight as her products are just as wonderful as she is. He quality sewing on this product is top notch, something I’d expect to see in the stores. Her attention to detail is ridiculously fine. And the personal touches she adds to her shipments (handwritten card, cute decorative tape, etc) is the icing on the cake.

This bag functions wonderfully. And I appreciate the snap top, as my yarn doesn’t snag or catch on an open zipper! There’s plenty of room for everything needed to keep my working project tidy and in one easily portable place. And can I say, her fabric choices are superb. Love. Love. Love. 

Go support Jennifer at Ellison Lane Handmade. She does custom work too. Wink. Wink.

Shake It Up…

Shake it Up – The Cars
I began a project for Berroco only to realize that, due to my gauge, I must search through the needle stash for a US 5. Ummmm, I never use 5’s! And there, standing lonely in a corner mason jar, covered by yarn and past projects, is a set of US 5’s…STRAIGHT NEEDLES! Who uses straight needles anymore?!?!  Really? Must I succumb to this? The answer: I must (unless I want to drive to the yarn shop and spend money on needles I thought I never used). Ugggggh. And so I cast on.

Again, really? People still use these things? They insist on hitting my elbows, scratching my lap, swirling my yarn around their ends, and before I’ve finished my first row, I’m more than frustrated. I ask the question again, “Who chooses to use straight needles?” Often I’m able to see both sides of a situation and give equal effort to pros and cons. Not here. Does even one pro exist in favor of straight needles? For if there is a more efficient tool, a more practical tool, a more portable too, a more comfortable tool; how have the straight not become extinct? My conclusion: CHANGE.

Change frightens most. Change intimidates. Change is uncertain and uncertainty opens the door to discomfort. Perhaps then, straight needle knitters are simply content in their straight needle world? Do they keep the door to discomfort closed, and rest happily in the certainty of straight needles; unaware of how wonderful circulars are? I can’t help but believe that if they were exposed to the goodness that is circular needles; they’d immediately convert and be glad for it. If this assumption is wrong, someone please enlighten me. Share with me the unforseeable pros of these inhibiting tools.

All this leads to a broader contemplation of the human person and its innate resistance to change. I am surrounded by two very distinct peoples in my world right now: those saturated in the comfort of tradition, wanting to bring back what they know to be familiar and good; and those desperately seeking change for a greater good. You could liken them to the straight needle knitters and the circular needle knitters. Both types of knitters want to finish their knitting projects, with gauges checked, tensions not too tight and not too lose, and not a missed stitch. How we knitters go about getting to that end result; however, is VERY different. Better or worse? I have my opinions –  all based on experience with both types of needles. And so, my conclusion comes: I need to educate others on the WONDERS of circular-needles. Put my passions in action. And hope, just hope, that perhaps my small doings will bring about greater good – not for me – but for all knitters! Here’s to believing that doing small things with great effort, will bring about big changes. Let’s shake it up!

…and if anyone has a needle better than circulars, I want to know about it!


LIVE! With Ravelry

Elanor&Liam has gone live on Ravelry! 

Excited to share this extremely cute, lovingly inspired, and quickly knit project with you. This is a fairly easy project, great for even the newest of knitters. My favorite aspect of this pattern (aside from the adorable Pom-Pom) is the interesting  construction. If you’re an ambidextrous knitter, you’ll get to left-hand knit. I am neither a left-handed knitter (like my daughter) nor an ambidextrous knitter (although this may be my next venture), and so for this pattern we less versatile knitters must turn our work over and knit from the inside out. I guess we could just hand our work over to a left-hand knitter when needed and let them knit for a while. A collaborative knit perhaps?!

If Cascde 128 superwash isn’t in your stash of “yarns needing to be used”, any bulky yarn should do. I’d love to see new color combinations! Check it out HERE!