Knitter Extraordinaire Celebrates a Special Birthday

Happy Birthday Bonnie. May your special birthday be the beginning of a happy new year. March 24th is the day!

When Bonnie was preschool age, her mother gave her fabric and a needle to work alongside her while she sewed. Various aunts and relatives taught her to crochet and then later to knit. being a crocheter first, she knits Continental, holding the yarn in her left hand. Her skill is exemplary.

Last week I photographed Bonnie and many of her lovely knitted things- I met Bonnie a couple of years ago at an in-person Sunday Afternoon Stitch Group held at McWalker Yarns store in Millvale Pennsylvania. This past year during the Pandemic we have “met” online a couple times a week on the Zoom Sit and Stitch groups sponsored by McWalker. Some of you from the Pittsburgh area may have shopped for yarn more than a decade ago in her former store – Bonnie Knits in Monroeville. She has a vast knowledge and experience and is always willing to answer questions or help another knitter decipher pattern directions. Need a little math assistance to figure out gauge? Ask Bonnie.

I haven’t been inside anyone’s home for a long time. We spent a couple of happy hours together and she gave me a peek into her knitting life and home. There are drawers, bins and closets filled with beautifully hand knitted sweaters, skirts, dresses,socks shawls, mittens , gloves and hats Handmade rugs from her mother and a gorgeous quilt made by her great grandmother were heirlooms to admire.

Bonnie welcoming me to her home.
Knit in Rowan Felted Tweed.
Heart Leaf Boxy Jumper by Dee Hardwicke
Four generations photographs. Bonnie is the baby in the middle photo. And the dark haired mother on the right in the far right photo. What a treasure to cherish. Her daughter Kate framed the three photographs together.
Here’s the tile -now look at the rug her mother made below.
Bonnie’s mother made this hooked rug, based on the above tile’s design.
Bonnie showed me her current project.
An Oslo Hat by PetiteKnit -Fibernymphs Grant Avenue colorway Bedazzled Yarn paired with Rowan Kidsilk Haze Mohair from McWalker Yarns
Bonnie’s Bell Collection
Her great grandmothers 48 States quilt embroidered with state flowers.
Pattern
Y-680 Ladies Jacket by Eisaku Noro & Co.,Ltd knit in 2different color-ways of Noro Kuryeon
State Flower Quilt detail
Meet one of her cats- Kisa. Loki was in the basement waiting until I left to come out and sniff where I’d sat on the couch.
Wonder what pattern Bonnie will knit next?
Planted in 1971, her crocus return ever year,

Woolswap Chat Episode 3

Most people who follow the blog know I like to knit. A lot!

I joined Woolswap in 2018. Gayle Stone, of Australia, created the international program in 2016. I have “met” the loveliest woolswappers in many different counties by participating in the program. Gayle does a great job matching up fellow knitters with similar interests.

This evening Gayle filmed our Woolswap Chat -an interview filmed at McWalker Yarns in Millvale Pennsylvania. It’s about 40 minutes long. You can click the link to view if you wish.

Here’s a quick pic of Gayle in Brisbane and me in Millvale at the yarn store. Thanks Amy and Gayle.

Woolswap Zoom interview
Brisbane,Australia/ Millvale Pennsylvania

What’s the Story ? Guest Blog

While up on a roof, checking out a potential building in downtown Millvale, Amy McCall saw this scene. She sent me this intriguing photograph. I asked if she be guest blogger today and she consented.

What’s the story? Write a caption for this photo- up on the roof. There’s definitely a story here.

You’ve met Amy and her yarn store, McWalker Yarns, on the blog before .

Write caption……..

I’m in Pittsburgh but Photographed by Friend in Australia, Guest Blog

Friday night McWalker Yarns hosts a Sip and Stitch Zoom meeting. A great way to connect during the Pandemic.   While we were knitting and chatting, we started talking Halloween.  One of our participants lives in Australia, so our evening meeting is her morning coffee time.  Gayle was saying it will already be Halloween for her at next Friday Night’s Sip and Stitch Zoom meeting. I thought, wait I will don the mask that is on my dining room table.  I sewed this costume for my son Mark in the early 80s.

So here I am sporting the ET mask and Gayle in Australia photographed me and sent it.  With her gracious permission I am sharing her photo of me.

I “met” Gayle through the Woolswap program she runs, as well as many other knitters around the world, sharing fiber, creativity and inspiration with one another.

 

It’s me. You can see my knitted shawl peeking.

Purchased My First Sock Blank

Wednesday afternoon, Amy at McWalker Yarns in Millvale PA, unboxed several Pittsburgh designs and also Rainbow Sock Blanks created exclusively for McWalker Yarns by Yarn over New York. 

I bought this one- Pittsburgh Skyline with Landmark Bridges snd Buildings 
Will I hang it up as ART or unravel and knit a pair of Pittsburghy Socks?  If you are a knitter, have you knit from a sock blank before?  

From Bluprint Website

“What is a sock blank?”

“A sock blank is a long, rectangular piece of knitted fabric created by a knitting machine and then dyed or stamped with color. The edge of the sock blank isn’t bound off — it’s loose so that you can knit from it, pulling the stitches out as you go. The basic idea behind the sock blank is that you’ll get an amazing yet unpredictable colorway when you knit with it. “

Beloved Duo Since 1969

My sister Mary embroidered this Bert and Ernie pillow when Mark was little. So at least forty some years ago. I found it while going through a big basket of pillows on the third floor. Their faces make me think of Rubber Ducky and Doing the Pigeon.

I’m partial to Ernie. Do you have a favorite? I’ve a knitting pattern for an Ernie sweater but who would wear it?

“Their names are believed to have been drawn from those of two minor characters in the Frank Capra film It’s A Wonderful Life.

According to A&E’s Biography, Bert and Ernie were… the only Muppets to appear in the Sesame Street pilot episode,screen tested to a number of families in July 1969.” -Wikipedia

Ernie and Bert
Jim Henson Exhibit last year at COSI in Columbus Ohio Blog post last year
First episode Sesame Street date: November 10, 1969

So You’ve Always Wanted to Knit a Sock? or Not.

So you’ve always wanted to knit a sock?  or not. If not, I hope you’ll return to the blog tomorrow.

A math teacher friend and former colleague is preparing to knit her first pair of socks.  She inspired this hand knit sock post. My friend in Florida who is finishing a pair of socks she started knitting for her son about five years ago and now she has the time to knit the second sock.  I think she is on the toe already.

When I first thought of knitting a pair of socks, I thought it looked too difficult. Now I average a pair a month.   My friends say” it’s too much trouble” but the way I see it, I’d be in trouble if I didn’t have sock knitting in my life.  Especially now as we are staying at home.

A blog post by knitter, author and designer Susan B. Anderson describes in detail  How I Make My Socks and is a great start. There are patterns on Ravelry and videos on YouTube.

These striped socks are knit with some very smart yarn that knows how to stripe all by itself, it’s the way the yarn is dyed.  Looks complicated, doesn’t it? The following 4 pairs of socks are knit in West Yorkshire Spinners Signature Yarn from UK bought at McWalker Yarns in Millvale PA.  Although their physical store is closed you can still order online.  (and if you are out of work you can apply for a $50 mini-grant for yarn to knit a project during isolation due to COVID-19 click name of store to get details or order knitting supplies, sock or otherwise)

This first pair is knit by a friend and neighbor who just started knitting in December.  Her first pair of socks.  She knit them on 2- 16″ circulars, one at a time.  She is a very tidy knitter.  I helped her along the way and she watched a couple of videos but she is now finishing her third pair.  Every once in awhile she needs reassurance she is doing the knitting correctly but she’s got it all by herself now.  I am proud of my excellent student and I think her socks look great!

All West Yorkshire Spinners Signature Yarn

 

You have a smart phone? a smart TV?  Here’s some other smart yarn. And you can wash these socks in the washing machine. There is a handwash setting on my machine  I air dry mine.

There is Regia Yarn by Schachenmayr and cotton yarn Tutti Fruiti II,Regia Design Line or Regia Pairfect by ARNE & CARLOS 4-ply (fingering weight). 75% Virgin Wool and 25% Polyamide. I finished both pairs that are shown  completed. Kid socks (in the middle photos)_are fun to knit and take less time.

 

Allergic to wool?  Here are two skeins of cotton sock yarn and a pair I knit for a friend

If you’re a blog follower, you might remember my poem The Satisfaction of Sock Knitting on an April post four years ago.  

A Handknit Sock

There’s a math to it. The cast on. Count
the multiples of four.
Last year it was hats and cowls.
This year, socks.
I want to try the fish lips kiss heel.

It’s a simple thing. How a sock is knit.
You start with yarn.
Needles as slim as toothpicks.
Terms like toe and gusset and cuff.
My friend says, "it’s too much work."

There’s a rhythm in the repetition.
The making. Clockwise circles.
Some throw, some pick.
Row after row after row.
In time you get length and warmth.

There’s the calm you long for,
around and around and around.
Turn heel for a path to Zen.
You think of those you love.
The grandmother who taught you.

The wet squeezed out,
pairs hang to dry. Later fold
their softness, admire the colors,
ignore imperfections.
Find comfort, hidden in shoes.
My squishy hand knit socks.

or my page on the Comparative Analysis of Knitting Socks when I started six pairs before Christmas using all different methods- two at a time on a  long corded (32″) single circular needle – Magic Loop, there was a single sock on an 8″ circular (that took a few inches to master) a single sock on two 16″ circulars, the set of sharp double point needles- one at a time, and then wooden and metal needles to add to the mix. Toe up, cuff down.  Fish Lips Kiss Heel, Flap and Gusset, Afterthought Heel and Eye of Partridge.

Maybe someone reading this blog post will get some needles and sock yarn and give it a go. If you decide to try it, please share your photos and experience as you start knitting socks.

Arne and Carlos Quarantine Knitting from Norway

Remember when I traveled to Norway for the Arne and Carlos Knitting Cruise in September 2018?  That’s where I met Arne and Carlos, who are well known knitwear designers and authors of creative books. During these difficult and anxious times of COVID-19, they are videoing daily from their home  Quarantine Knitting with Arne and Carlos. It’s on their YouTube Channel 

Even if you aren’t a knitter or crocheter they are entertaining and fun to listen to. They are generous and kind.  There will some cooking on the episodes, too.  Their neighbors will deliver the ingredients to their porch. Because they had just travelled out of the country, they are in quarantine in their home.

We are all having to “shelter in place” as the brave nurses, doctors and medical workers have to go to help others.  Grocery and pharmacy workers and other essential services are at risk as they continue to work with the public every day. Challenging is an understatement.

Join their public Facebook Group Quarantine Knitting with Arne and Carlos They are welcoming dialogue, comments and engagement from viewers. Joining in can help you feel less isolated and anxious.  They are encouraging knitters and crocheters to continue to support their local yarn stores during this shutdown of small businesses. Because social distancing is necessary and the physical stores in Pittsburgh are closed, McWalker Yarns in Millvale is offering creative options for yarn delivery and Yarns by Design in Oakmont is offering Free Shipping through Apr 15th. Knitting groups and classes are cancelled but they’re even trying to have a virtual knitting circle, stay tuned.

Here are the links to Episodes one and two

 

 

 

McWalker Yarns Sweater Party NaKniSweMo 2019

Saturday afternoon the November sweater knitters gathered in Millvale Pennsylvania.  McWalker Yarns was the place to celebrate participation in the National Knit a Sweater in a Month Challenge.  50,000 Stitches, cast on just after midnight on November first.   The sweater was to be completed (ends woven in and blocked) by midnight November 30th.

If you follow me on IG you know my sweater was 24 hours and 15 minutes over the cut off.

Here is Clarissa,  the Grand Prize Winner of NaKniSweMo 2019 holding her prizes- a generous gift card to McWalker Yarns to buy yarn for the NEXT sweater and a very cool magnet/bottle opener.

 Trove by designer Emma Durcher.  Yarn is BC Garn Semilla Melange Sport Weight

Detail below of Trove.  PomPom Magazine Autumn 2019

Jes sporting her very fine knitting SC1 by Allison Brookbanks design  Yarn Neighborhood Fiber Co Loft

 

Robin designed her sweater.  The design name is Hauplande  Yarn Loch Lomond by BC Garn worsted weight.  I think she has 150,000 stitches in her design. WOW!

IMG_2041
Hauplande designed by Robin

 

Jes photographed me wearing The Purl Code Sweater Designer Isabell Kraemer. Yarn- Baa Ram Ewe Winterburn DK weight in Rhubarb colorway,  Using the Morse Code Alphabet provided in the pattern there are phrases, words, place names, favorite movies and books, song lyrics and people I love,  knit right into the sweater.


Christine is holding a gift bag with the sweater she crocheted as a surprise gift.

Her sweater (which she translated into Crochet from Knitting) will be added after the holiday season.  Christine brought cheese ball and crackers and spinach dip to round out the party fare.  McWalker Yarns Shop owner Amy McCall baked a delicious and moist chocolate cake with sweater decoration.

 

Below see Shop Owner, Hostess, Sponsor and Chief of Inspiration for the NaKniSweMo 2019 Challenge, Amy McCall.  Making the Local Yarn Store a welcoming community for all.

 

Spruce Point Pullover designer Amy Herzog               Baa Ram Ewe Winterburn yarn

 

Feistywoman Knit Hanefjed Sweater  click for details 

BC Garn Loch Lomond Bio GOTS certified  and Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool

 

https://www.ravelry.com/projects/feistywoman/hanefjed-womens-version