Archive for March, 2014

Sock Knitting Queen

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014

Island living certainly has its perks and for Pat De Clark, a resident of Haida Gwaii (formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands), she was quick to realize that the secret to living in a community full of fishermen, loggers, and outdoor buffs starts with keeping all those feet warm and dry.  In an oceanic climate where the average rainfall amount is second only to the tropics, wool socks are in constant demand and are preferred over cotton for their ability to wick away moisture and retain elasticity, not to mention they offer a nice layer of padding inside boots or shoes.  Pat arrived in the Village of Queen Charlotte off the coast of B.C. in 1983 on a six week stint as an x-ray technician and never left.  “It’s quite lovely knowing and being known by everyone in town.” says Pat of Charlotte Island Knitting, who began knitting socks more than thirty years ago initially by hand and then on a double-bed machine, and has since made a cottage industry out of it.

Let’s get to know our sock knitting queen-

Pat In Her Studio

Pat De Clark In Her Home Studio

MM:  Hi Pat, thank you for stopping by today to chat with us.  Would you like a tea or coffee before we get started?

PDC:  Yes, I’m a tea drinker, thank you.

MM:  There is something so magical about gifting someone with a pair of knitted wool socks, and watching the reaction as they slip them on their feet.  Your socks are all quite beautiful.  Are these made on a machine?

PDC:  The ones that you are looking at are all made on an old home knitting machine.  It’s a double-bed Superba, and some of your senior readers may recognize it.  Machine knitting became popular in Europe after WWII and later spread to this continent.  It was a very popular hobby and also a means of extra income.  Machine knitting lasted until about the mid-nineties when it suddenly lost popularity and the manufacturers and support structure disappeared from the economy.  There are very few of us left now.

Fortissima Mexiko Peru Color by Schoeller & Stahl

Fortissima Mexiko Peru Color by Schoeller & Stahl

MM:  Have you always been a knitter and can you tell us how you got started in this business?

PDC:  Well…… my lovely English grandmother taught me how to knit when I was five, and I started to knit socks when I was about seventeen.  I’ve just never quit!  A friend bought me an old knitting machine at an auction and instantly I was hooked.  It soon became apparent that I could make much more knitwear that I could ever use so I started selling at Christmas craft fairs and it just morphed from there.  During the eighties and nineties, most of my production was for men.  That has all changed now…it’s about half and half.  It became obvious that I could sell more socks that I could ever possibly make, so now I just focus on the annual Christmas craft fair and a few special orders in between.

Supersocke 4 ply by On Line

Supersocke 4 ply by On Line

MM:  Do you have a set schedule that you follow… for instance, how many pairs of socks can you knit in a week?

PDC:  Yes.  I do set my goals for each season, divide them into months and weeks, consult my yarn supply and start knitting.  My current goal is ten pairs of socks per week.

MM:  Wow!  That is quite a lot for the rest of us sock knitters to aspire to.  What are some of the responses you have had from those who wear your socks?

PDC:  People like the fact that they are wool…..we live in a rain forest and are primarily outdoor enthusiasts, whether it is for work or play.  Wool keeps the feet warm even if they get wet.  There is no elastic in the ribbing to constrict, yet the ribbing I make is firm and stays up.  This is especially good for diabetics.  My socks are seamless, comfortable and last well, I have had customers who have been buying them from me for thirty years, and I have others who say their mothers bought them from me.  I seem to have become an Island tradition.

Sock Stockpile Growing

Sock Stockpile Growing

MM:  Yes….and I hear you are now taking to the open seas, to teach sock knitting on cruise ships.  How did this come about? 

PDC:   Oh quite by accident actually.  While on a cruise to Hawaii, part of the daily routine was a knit ‘n’ stitch get-together each morning.  I took my sock knitting along and it went from there.  I met some lovely women and had a really great time and still get emails on a regular basis from these women, many of them showing their latest achievements.  Very rewarding.  There is a big interest in sock knitting as I’m sure you know, there also seems to be a myth about how difficult it is.  My job is to demystify it.

MM:  What three little tips would you like to pass on to brand new sock knitters?

PDC:  1. Use only a good wool sock yarn such as On Line or Fortissima.  2. Two circular needles are easier to handle than four double pointed ones, and I prefer bamboo.  3. Relax and have fun!

Pat's Island View

Pat’s Island View

 

Unravelling Ravelry

Saturday, March 15th, 2014

Joining the Ravelry community is like hopping on a brightly-coloured bus, not knowing where the journey will take you, yet enjoying every millisecond of the ride surrounded by the cosy camaraderie of fibre enthusiasts.  This tightly-knit community just got a whole lot bigger, as Ravelry founders, Jess and Casey Forbes announced the site’s membership hit the FOUR MILLION mark in late-February.  The husband and wife couple from Boston took a leap of faith in 2007, launching Ravelry after Jess, a blogger and knitter complained numerous times to her computer programmer husband about her difficulty in resourcing fibre information on the web.  Casey came up with the idea to build a website to serve not only as a social network, but as an online library for knitters, crocheters, and other fibre buffs to reference instructional aids, yarns and patterns, plus a place to share projects.  It is a one-stop spot, free to join, and completely community-driven, as the needs and wants of the members grow so does this incredible site.

Ten Fun Facts About Ravelry-

1. If you lined up one hundred and sixty-six Asian elephants, and politely asked them to step on a scale, their total weight would equal the nine hundred and seven metric tons of yarn in all the finished projects on Ravelry.  

2. Reading the total number of words posted in forums on Ravelry in 2013 would still be more than reading War And Peace sixteen hundred times over.

3. In a typical day, ravelers are as busy as honey bees with thirty thousand photos uploaded, fifteen thousand projects queued, and five thousand yarns stashed. 

4. Iceland and Canada have much more in common than just cold winters, these two countries rank highest for having the most ravelers per capita.  United States follows in third place. 

5. Try to keep this one a secret from your boss.  Mid-afternoon between 2-3 pm (Eastern Time) is peak rush hour traffic on Ravelry.

6. The one day of the year when the most projects are completed ………you guessed it, Christmas Eve!   This is consistent over the last seven years, so what does this say about us?  Are we ‘procrastiknitters?’ 

7. It could be the delicious kettle-dyed colouring or the soft squishy texture, either way, Mecha by Malabrigo proudly wears the tiara for most popular new yarn in 2013.  

8. Colour trends have been holding steady over the past seven years with blues and greens leading the way.  This year shows a surprising shift towards grey.  

9. Monday is the busiest day of the week with the highest number of patterns added to the site.  Tuesday and Thursday are quieter days, while the most chit chat happens on Wednesday in the forums. 

10. Shy humans use their cats as avatars.  Close to twelve thousand cats are highly visible as raveler’s alter egos.   

Read more fun facts here on Ravelry and join our Diamond Yarn group here.

Pretty Party Girls

Saturday, March 8th, 2014

All dressed up and no place to go?  That will never be a worry with this charming collection of knitwear styles from Sirdar.  Pretty Party Girls offers up an assortment of sixteen delightful designs befitting a range of special occasions from afternoon teas, spring formals, to bridal showers and Easter brunch.

Take a peek at Pretty Party Girls-

Sirdar SOUKIE DK

Sirdar SOUKIE DK

Sirdar Soukie DK is a shimmery twist of cotton and polyester accentuated with just a sprinkling of tiny paillettes that catch the light like pixie dust.  Look for these eight shades in shops now- Gold Dust, Daybreak, Dusky Rose, Arabesque, Starstruck, Jasper, Endless Days, and Into The Sun.

 

Ruffle Edge Cardigan

Ruffle Edge Cardigan

Wrap up the next special occasion with a ruffle edge cardigan sized to fit just right with raglan sleeves for girls aged two to thirteen years.  Sirdar is unsurpassed when it comes to an extensive range of sizing and design options.  This style can be knit with capped or full length sleeves.  Jasper (shown above).

 

Long V Neck Pullover

Long V Neck Pullover

Redefine grace under pressure, and sparkle your way from a demanding day at work to an evening of fun and laughter with the girls.  This figure-hugging pullover, designed to cause eyelids to flutter knits up either in a short or tunic length version complete with choice of v neck in back or front.  Gold Dust (shown above).

 

Scoop Neck Cardi

Scoop Neck Cardi

Play the hostess at the party and dress to dazzle with this no-fuss scoop neck cardigan.  Dainty rows of eyelets are outlined in between garter ridges, without adding texture overload.  Take your pick from short or three-quarter length sleeves.  Daybreak (shown above).

 

Sleeveless Asymmetrical Top

Sleeveless Asymmetrical Top

Punch up the party mood with this golden-hued asymmetrical top featuring overlapping angular fronts and fashionable cap sleeves  Not only is it a look that says, ‘now’, it adds a touch of instant glamour.  Into The Sun (shown above).

 

Long Sleeve Jacket

Long Sleeve Jacket

Bubblegum pink is simply irresistible in this very girly jacket designed with a deep-cut v and smooth stitching to highlight the exquisite beauty of Soukie DK.  Optional short sleeve instructions are added.  Dusky Rose (shown above).

Letting In The Lamb

Saturday, March 1st, 2014

In like a lion, out like a lamb……….and don’t we all vote for the latter this month?  If you are still comfortably settled in a warm and cosy state of ‘hiberknitting’ stay there, but just remember to peek out every now and then to catch a glimpse of the latest designs for spring.  Inspiring, stylish and always refreshing, Mirasol previews two new laceweight yarns, Sulka Legato, and Nuna Fina complimented by a collection of contemporary designs for women.

Catch a breath of fresh air with a few of these styles-  

Mirasol Sulka Legato

Mirasol SULKA LEGATO

Light and lofty, Sulka Legato is a creamy blend of merino, alpaca and silk, dyed to perfection in sixteen medium tones- pearl, beige, taupe, camel, chocolate, charcoal, sage, slate, lilac, aqua, rust, moss, purple, teal, plum and denim.

Mirasol Leaflet m5046

Mirasol Leaflet m5046

Lacy Tee-  The trendsetting look of the season is roomy and relaxed.  This design is completely reversible, and builds on a simple square framework with minimal shaping, comfortably capped off with wide cuffs for sleeves.  Teal (shown above).

Mirasol Leaflet m5047

Mirasol Leaflet m5047

Seed Stitch Cardigan-  Quiet and demure, this design replaces the winter weary suit jacket and showcases the whispery-soft nature of the yarn, Sulka Legato, with a clean silhouette and scaled-down texture.  Denim (shown above).

Mirasol NUNA FINA

Mirasol NUNA FINA

Sleek and shimmery, Nuna Fina lets the light shine in.  This fingering weight yarn is a harmonious blend of merino, silk and bamboo available in high mileage skeins of three hundred metres.  Look for all sixteen shades- snowflakes, pitchblack, ruby, darkwoods, midnight, deepwater, amethyst, royalty, foggy, beaverdam, mossed over, tandoori, toasted walnut, bluejay, emerald city, and lava stone. 

Mirasol Leaflet m5056

Mirasol Leaflet m5056

Lace Border Cardigan-  For limitless appeal, this stunning v-neck style can cross the great divide from slacks to dresses.  The delicate lace borders are worked sideways, with the body worked seamlessly in one piece.  Hook and eye closures finish off the look.  Mossed Over (shown above).

Mirasol Leaflet m5054

Mirasol Leaflet m5054

Sleeveless Turtleneck Tunic-  Set the mood for modern sophistication with this design, well-constructed with a-line shaping, and no seams, the bodice is worked in double strand for extra coverage.  Ruby (shown above).

Mirasol Leaflet m5057

Mirasol Leaflet m5057

Vintage Lace Tee-  Practical and lightweight, this modest little tee is jazzed up a notch with a lovely seashell lace repeat along the bottom edge.  Amethyst (shown above).

Mirasol Leaflet m5053

Mirasol Leaflet m5053

Oversized Poncho Top-  A flattering style for all ages, this design is knit from side to side in two easy pieces with maximum drape.  The open lacework provides cool comfort and plenty of air circulation on hot days.  This popular longer length makes it ideal to wear over leggings or capris.  Foggy (shown above).

View these designs and more from the Mirasol Collection online at Patternfish.