by Kerrie James


Focus Friday

Posted on November 20, 2011 at 4:20 AM Comments comments (0)

A little behind but posting nonetheless!  For this Focus Friday I'd like to remind you all that the Quasi-Mystery Tam KAL is ongoing until the end of November.  Don't forget to post your FO in the finishers thread to be inlcuded in a prize drawing December 1st.  All details can be found here.

And now for a little review:

60 More Quick Knits

ISBN: 978-1936096213

2011 Sixth & Spring Books

As the title suggests, 60 quick knits designed for use with Cascade 220 Sport.  A fantastic collection of hats, mittens and scarf projects featuring bobbles, cables, colorwork and some easy lace,  ranging from beginner to experienced.  With the holiday season fast approaching, this book will get great use!

#10 Bobble Gauntlet Mittensby Cheryl Murray photo © Jack Deutschsearch

#29 Cabled Beanieby Nichole Reese photo © Jack Deutschsearch

#51 Nordic Tube Scarfby Cheryl Murray photo © Jack Deutschsearch

#51 Lace Stoleby Faina Goberstein photo © Jack Deutschsearch

Ravlery, Amazon and even Sixth & Spring do not provide photos for all the projects in the book, which is unfortunate becuase some of my favorite projects in this book are not listed (yet).  Below are some of my favorites, please excuse the iSight shots.

The very first project, #1 Bobbles & Lace Slouchy Hat, is beautiful and would be a great quick gift knit.

#36 Cabled Block Scarf is comprised of several blocks, knit on the bias, and then seamed together.  This would be a great gift for either a man or a woman.

#43 Fringed Scarf is another great unisex choice.  A simple, handsome design.

#47 Fair Isle Tam provides just enough challenge for Intermediate knitters new to colorwork and not quite ready for multi-colored fair isle.

Focus Friday

Posted on September 30, 2011 at 3:10 PM Comments comments (0)

This week the focus has been not only on some deadlines, both knitwise and pattern writting, but also on the giveaway, attempted crochet-along (CAL) and upcoming Quasi-Mystery Tam knit-along (KAL).  I've also been reviewing several books and products but won't get to those until next week.

The giveaway winners were announced on Wednesday; I've been gathering prizes suitable while I wait for mailing addresses. 

As for the CAL, I would really like to get this off the ground again and will.  I do have many, many deadlines knit-wise and so, I am planning to (re)start this CAL just after the holidays.  I do apologize once again to the few who have shown interest in the CAL.  Please hang in there! 

And finally, the Quasi-Mystery Tam KAL will officially begin tomorrow.  The pattern will be free for the months of October and November, after which the name will change, the file re-formatted and then up for sale.  Anyone who actively participates in the KAL will receive the finished file in December; for this reason, email addresses may be asked and will be kept in confidence.

Wow, I know I've been swamped but after writting this brief update, it seems like nothing!  Dontcha hate that?

Focus Friday

Posted on September 16, 2011 at 4:45 PM Comments comments (1)

Once again, I had hoped to get more spinning wheel info out but I'd really like to take some better shots and so, will need to bribe employ the help of an older child.  So, no spinning wheel stuff this week, sorry.  Instead I have a review of sorts for you.

So in the knitting world, there are knitting needles and there are Knitting Needles.  Whether straights, double points or circulars, most, if not all, knitting needles are perfectly adequate in getting the job done.  Personal preferences may dictate whether a bamboo, wooden, metal or plastic needle is selected.  After which, the final choice to be made all comes down to the point. Sharp or blunt?  Some needle  brands do not offer this final choice as an option, but one does.  Signature Needle Arts makes Knitting Needles. 

I will be the first to admit, initially, I couldn't imagine what the hype was about.  I mean, really, how exceptional could a humble knitting needle be?  While debating whether or not to place a purchase, I had recalled my utter disappointment in Addi Turbo needles.

This was another needle I had heard so very much about, 'Addi Turbos are wonderful for knitting lace and socks and any knitter who enjoyed knitting lace or socks simply must invest in a set.'  Further commentary boasted that Addi Turbos were quick, sharp and had flexible cables.  I was sold.  At least, until I purchased that first pair. 

I did not find the tips of Addi Turbos to be any sharper than a Susan Bates or Boye needle.  As for being quick (slick), I admit the first few uses did seem slick but suddenly not.  In fact they felt a little gritty and had a horrible scent.  I was grateful to have only purchased a single pair and no more.  I will say however, the standard Addi circulars are nice to knit but have blunt tips.

Back to the Signature needles.  The price tag did not exactly make the decision to test drive these needles very easy.  Still, to use the excuse of a birthday gift did help soften the blow.  While going through the website to place my order, I was impressed at the options available.  While color choice is predisposed to size, length, needle tip style and, in the case of straights, cap, can all be selected by the purchaser.  I never thought shopping for knitting needles would be so fun!

For my first order I selected the most useful 2.50 mm DPN set with Stiletto tips.  I was very impressed to see not two but three needle tip choices: Blunt, Middi and Stiletto.  Once the order arrived, packaged in a sturdy plastic tube and in an organza pouch, I immediately cast on for a pair of socks.  The sharp points made knitting delightful (for me) and I found the needle shaft to be comfortable.  An additional incentive I had not previously considered, the bright color of the needle shaft proved helpful in identifying stitches.

Flash forward to this past Mother's Day when I purchased a circular needle.  I already knew what to expect in the shaft and tip but the cable truly intrigued me, in addition to the join.  These two issues are important when selecting a circular needle.  No one wants a terrible join to slow down progress and a flexible cable is a true must, especially for those who enjoy Magic Loop.  I have to let you know, the circulars are absolutely the best I've used to date.  The cable is soft and flexible, almost perfectly so.  And the best feature, as far as I'm concerned, is that the join is not only nice but also enables the cable to rotate freely!  Can you imagine that?  How often have you been frustrated by a kinked cable?

Over the past four years I have gifted myself one pair/set of needles for each birthday and this year, a circular needle for Mother's Day.  It must be fairly obvious how delighted I am with my Knitting Needles and I look forward to purchasing my sixth pair in ten days ;)  Do yourself a favor, make a Signature Needle Arts wishlist and send it to your loved ones!


Focus Friday (on Saturday)

Posted on September 3, 2011 at 8:05 AM Comments comments (3)

Focus: Spinning Wheel Maintenance

For me, it's that time of year.  At the first evidence of Fall, I begin to think 'Spin!' and shortly thereafter, 'Spinning wheel maintenance.'  And so, assembling my heard and sprucing them up becomes top on my list of things to do.  Since we expect to move within the next 9-10 months, I took this opportunity to also properly store away my larger wheels (Louet Julia, Schacht Ladybug and an antique wheel) while keeping my Ashford Joy traveling wheel handy for use. 

This week I'll show you how I do basic maintenance, using my Joy to clean up a bit.  Basic maintenance requires minimal dis-assembly of your wheel, only removing commonly removed parts such as the flyer and bobbin.  Next week I will do a more thorough maintenance using my antique wheel and possibly the Julia and Ladybug. 

One of the first steps in preparing for any project is to assemble your materials, most items can be found in your home.  The materials list below is inclusive of all types of wheels, select the items relevant to your wheel. (ex. Only machines with leather parts would require mink oil, etc)

  • drop cloth or old sheet
  • rags
  • cotton swabs
  • needle nosed pliers
  • paint brush dedicated for the spinning wheel
  • quality furniture oil (lemon oil) or Olive oil
  • mink oil or other leather care if applicable
  • machine oil, this can be either spinning wheel, sewing machine or 30 grade machine oil
  • beeswax or other dry lubricant (ex. paraffin)
  • No.10 cotton thread
  • extra springs if applicable
  • extra drive band(s)

Quite likely, instructions for spinning wheel maintenance were included with your wheel at purchase.  If you've lost the instructions or if you are not the original owner, you may find information on the company websites.  Or, since you are here, you can follow my instructions below:

  • Lay your drop cloth and gather your wheel.
  • Remove your flyer, bobbin, brake band and drive band(s).

  • Use your dry paint brush to carefully brush away dust, fibers and debris from all parts.  Try to get all areas, to include hinges and joining points and especially at metal joins.  Some fibers may be stuck and may require you to pick them out.  Don't forget the Footman!

  • Using your furniture (or olive) oil and a rag, wipe down the entire wheel, to include grimey/gunky parts, until clean.
  • If your wheel has leather pieces, treat these with mink oil now.  Leather pieces are often found at the Footman or near the tensioning devices.

  • Now is the time to use your fine grade machine oil (30 grade) and beeswax.  While spinning the wheel slowly apply the wet lubricant (oil), treat metal on metal parts such as ball bearings, axles, cranks and other joints as well as the spindle shaft and flyer.  If your dispenser does not have a long thin nose, use cotton swabs for application, wiping running oil off the wheel.  If your wheel has sealed ball bearings oiling is not necessary.  Using the dry lubricant (wax), treat wood on wood joints and wood on metal joints.

  • Inspect the hooks, drive band(s) and tensioning systems.  Check the hooks, making sure they are secure and free of nicks.  If the drive band requires replacement, do so now.  If you have an extra drive band, great, if not, use the No.10 cotton.  Inspect your wheel's tensioning system, depending on whether you require springs, leather or cotton, replace these parts if necessary.  

Your wheel should be fairly spiffy right about now!

Coming Monday: Make It Monday & a Quilting book review!

Focus Friday

Posted on August 26, 2011 at 4:10 PM Comments comments (1)

In an effort to post regularly and regain/engage my audience, I am planning to post on the following schedule:


Make It Monday


This category will encompass anything I've made or am working on during the week.  All creative outlets are covered: sewing, knitting, pattern making, spinning, weaving, knit  design, cooking, baking, kid crafts, re-purposing, jewelry making, photography and paper crafts.  I will also include new items which I hope to add to my list of interests, such as gardening and metal work, as well as long neglected favorites such as drawing.  


Wordless Wednesday


With hope, this category will push me beyond my comfort zones in Photography. Photographs might be of works in progress, family, food, nature, singular objects or architecture.  I won't add any text other than the title, date and subject.


Focus Friday


This category is something of a catch-all.  Here I may write about a specific technique, conduct a book or product review or bring attention to something new and wonderful.  


As always, I and this site are a continuing work in progress.  I thank you for and appreciate your audience.  Please feel free to leave a comment or send a message.


Up next week:  My WIPs and FOs plus a book review or two!

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