As the nights grow shorter I'm even more grateful that usual for the new books and e-courses that have arrived Chez Feral in the last week!
Updated Edition of Knitting Workshop by Elizabeth Zimmermann.
Meg Swansen (EZ's daughter) and Cully Swansen (EZ's grandson) updated the well-loved 1981 original homespun Knitting Workshop with color photographs, more fully expanded written instructions, EZ journal entries, and additional details about, for example, such technical details as handling the jog in circular knitting or determining raglan decrease rates.
My first exposure to EZ was through her bi-annual leaflet Wool Gathering and her earliest books: Knitting Without Tears and Knitting Workshop. These black-and-white publications gave the impression that EZ was all about natural neutrals, Wisconsin wabi sabi minimalism. It was a shock to discover that the garments I'd been viewing were actually often quite colorful! The Updated Edition of Knitting Workshop might be equally startling to readers familiar with the original version--lots of color photographs! At Knitting Camp last summer Meg mentioned that they had managed to locate just about every one of the original garments to be photographed in color.
Garments that were only hinted at in photo captions are fully laid out in the updated edition: the Epaulet Jacket, for example. And a sweater I'd never seen before (this is totally surprising because I fall into the Somewhat Obsessed EZ Fan Club and I thought I knew it ALL!), the Shaded Diamond Yoke Sweater, fleshes out the unadorned chart in the original version. I would say that there is so much new material in the updated edition that even people who have the original book should lay out the $24 for the new one.
I love the new edition and it now sits happily on my shelves next to the humble rusty red original.
Eliza's Home by Rachael Herron
Rachael has fleshed in the background to her Cypress Hollow series of knitting-related romance novels with her new novella Eliza's Home. The "quotes" from the fictional Eliza Carpenter in Rachael's books created such a vivid picture in my mind that I can't wait to curl up with this book!
Amy Herzog's Craftsy class
Last August I gave Amy Herzog's Knit to Flatter a very positive review. In fact, I was so impressed that I signed up for her Knit to Flatter Craftsy course. Amy is a dynamic instructor and the course, so far, is very well organized. It is clear to me, after teaching Fair Isle design for so many years, that we can all use help making sweaters that fit our bodies well.
OK, I give! Several people have asked, through comments and Ravelry mail and personal emails: How do I change colors when knitting with a magic ball?
There are two points at which you will be connecting colors. The first one is when you are making the ball itself. I just knot the ends together kind of loosely because I want to keep my editing options open. ("What do you mean, 'editing'?" I mean that, for example, if two colors of the same value are spending too much time together in the knitted item I will break off one of the colors before it is done and move to the next color on the ball.)
Now, the second time when you connect colors comes when you are knitting. The general answer to how to handle color changes is pretty broad: It depends on what fibers you are using and what you are making.
You can knot the ends together, leaving the ends hanging on the outside. This is especially effective when you are combining different textures in your magic ball and when your color changes are rather frequent.
You can knot the ends together, leaving the ends hanging inside the garment. Kaffe Fassett shocked the knitting world with this method! By the way, although Kaffe did not invent the magic ball method, he pioneered it as an artistically controlled way to use color spontaneously.
You can spit splice, if you are using wool yarns.
You can weave in the ends as you go.
You can weave in the ends when you are done with your project.
You can knit both colors together for a stitch or two or more, and then weave in ends later.
I'm happily playing with this technique--next up, a double-knitted hat!
Upcoming Feral Play Date
I'm sorry to say I'm going to have to cancel the December Feral Play Date. The holidays have conspired to eat my schedule--as I expect they have in your lives as well. Come next year we'll figure out some times to get together.
I've been playing with magic balls recently! You might remember my version of the Inspira Cowl (What'e Leftover Cowl, above--amazingly, this project has been favorited almost as often as what I consider my tour de force Sashiko Jacket)--I get a lot of questions about how I handled the colors in this project. Enough questions, in fact, that I'm putting together a class on the magic ball technique.
Magic balls are created by attaching lengths of yarn to each other to create a unique, self-striping yarn that reveals itself bit by bit when you are knitting. You can use different textures, different weights, and most definitely different colors!
It's difficult, if not impossible, to figure out how successful the project will be when you are in the early stages. Magic ball knitting is an exercise in letting go--trusting that the whole will work out even when the details look a little discordant. Jazz knitting. Right now I'm just knitting along, keeping my fingers crossed.
The trick is to avoid the scrappy look, to provide some structure to the design. This can be accomplished through controling values, limiting hues, use of solid colors, and the careful choice of pattern.
In the case of the What's Leftover Cowl, I used a pretty much uncurated batch of leftovers. The magic balls were divided into two value groups: one was light to medium in value, and the other was medium to dark. I let the colors go crazy! There are two rows of a solid color between each set of corrugated ribs--this helps create some cohesion in the design. If everything had been changing colors willy nilly this design would not have turned out well. Notice how unpromising the start of this cowl is, even though the final design is, I think, quite successful.
As they say in Galaxy Quest: "Never give up! Never surrender!"
The fun thing about magic ball knitting is that it is low commitment knitting: these are leftovers, after all, and once the ball is wound up you don't have many decisions to make.
I've got a long list of techniques I'm trying out with my various magic balls: stripes, double knitting, lace, miters, brioche.... I'm really excited about how this is evolving! (And a hint: watch for the Madrona Fiber Arts Retreat miniclass announcement this January. Shhhh.)
Winner of the Book Giveaway
Thank you to everyone who took the time to write about the kinds of classes you'd like (that I can teach). I've pulled a random winner for the book prize: Sandra!
Many of you suggested teaching in your areas--I'm open to the idea and will work actively on it in 2015.