Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Slave to the Gypsy Queen...Halloween Eve

Halloween Eve is upon me, and the Gypsy Queen had a lovely time scoring candy. I don't sew much these days, but once a year she puts me through my paces. I did pretty well this time, if I do say so myself! I haven't gotten much knitting done this week, but I'll be back...

Here is a swatch for my Sampler Workshop, using very fine 2-ply Shetland yarn. I think I like it, but the yarn is so crisp I am not sure how to best use it. It makes a pretty swatch!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Sampler Workshop!

I am giving a workshop in Sampler Knitting for the Westchester Knitting Guild and there are a few spots still available. It will be on November 17th, from 11am-5pm, in Valhalla, New York. You do not need to be a guild member to join us. I will be covering several lace knitting techniques, including a temporary cast-on, directional decreases, a nice edging and corner miters for the edging. During the workshop we will knit a large swatch using all the above techniques. The handout will include the full chart-set for my Blue Ribbon Sampler, which was pictured in the most recent Vogue Knitting and has not even been release for sale yet! If you are interested, contact Olive McNeil ( for full details and to reserve a space.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

What I Brought Home From Rhinebeck...

So these Japanese size 8 beads are not from Rhinebeck. I got them last Friday on 6th Avenue, in a few shops between 39th and 36th streets in Manhattan. I was at a conference and had an hour at lunch time...
This a wonderful merino/silk top from Chasing Rainbows. It spins as nicely as it looks.
New lace-weight spindles for my collection. Each a great spinner, and each a beauty.
Merino/silk roving from Foxhill Farms, with about 60 yards I did on one of the new spindles.
More delicious merino/silk top from Chasing Rainbows, with about 60 yards I did on another of my new spindles. I have a plan for this yarn already, and it involves some of those gold beads in the first picture...
Yarn. 50% merino/50% angora in a lace-weight. It looks like it will take dye very well to me.
And last but not least, some very fine lace-weight 2-ply Shetland for good measure. It isn't very soft, but it is crisp and should make excellent lace.
I am shopped out for now! I'll be back soon with a new set of charts; but first I need to get the Gypsy Queen ready for Halloween night. Stand-by...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Fiber Frenzy Report from New York State Sheep and Wool Festival 2007

So let's start with the serious stuff. Deep fried pickles? My friend Jane tells me she had deep fried Twinkies at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, and they were scrumptious. I can almost imagine that, but pickles? Am I too much of a New Yorker to deep fry my pickles? I think so...
Here is Isis, languishing with her second place ribbon. She looks fetching, yes? She was slightly wounded, but upon looking closely at the piece who beat her out for first place in her class, she grudgingly conceded that the best lace knitting won out.
I understand this piece is a design from A Gathering of Lace. It is knit in very fine Merino yarn and I am totally embarrassed to say I forgot to write the knitter's name down. If any of you know her name, please leave it in my comments. (Melody Parker Navarez is her name, I just found it; added 8:30pm) It is some high-end gossamer knitting.
The edging pattern is lovely. I need to buy me that book! It is one of the few lace books I don't have and I don't know why...
Not to be totally without blue, I did win a blue ribbon in another class, for my take on Evelyn Clark's Estonian scarf design. It appears the knitting judges liked cobweb-weight yarn this year. The yarn I used is from YarnTreehouse, and is one of the Chinese wool lace yarns with very long color repeats.
More blue, I show you the winner in the crochet class, made by my good friend Mary Harrington. Way to go! This is a delicious alpaca yarn. It looks even better on a person, if you can imagine that.
And last but not least, the blue ribbon in the youth class went to my lovely daughter, for her weaving. That kid can really weave, and her color sense is pretty good too. The fibers are a mix of cotton, wool and silk.
The weather was spectacular, the crowds were enthusiastic and the selection of goodies was as expected; tempting...Later this week I'll post with pictures of MY new goodies and knitting progress. Until then, knit on!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A sigh of relief...

It has been a difficult 5 days, but I am pleased to report that my father had open-heart surgery late last week and is almost ready to come home. It looks like we are moving toward a speedy recovery, and as I am the queen of denial, I mention it only because it distracted me from my now I will get back to it!

I am still working on Hecate, which is going to be a full-size stole pretending to be a swatch. More to follow. It looks pretty good to me. I am also planning a holiday scarf project chez BadCat, with charts posted on the blog during November. I will get information up about that next week.

First I have to totally enjoy Rhinebeck this coming weekend. I'll take my camera and some cash. Be prepared...I am going to wallow in it.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

An embarrassment of riches...

Over the past two weeks, I have been gifted with a few skeins of wonderful lace-weight yarn. The first picture shows some Elann Baby Lace Merino, in black. This was from Elizabeth, and you can meet her here at her blog: She started a local knitting group I try to get to when I can, and has been doing some nice lace knitting. The second (really large) hank of lace-weight yarn is from my friend Jane, who just got back from China. This yarn is probably all merino and is fine with a very nice twist. The two blue balls are also from Jane. The color is actually more periwinkle in real life. This is one of the new Lacey Lamb colors from Jade Sapphire. Delicious!
These last two yarns I could use some help with. I have no idea what that really are, despite the names on the labels. Jane also brought these back from China. I tried to photograph the actual percentages of fiber content (in Chinese) from the side of the label, but it was too small. Also, it added up to 110%, so even more confusing. Anyone have any knowledge about these yarns???

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Fine tuning a design

I have been working on and off for quite some time on fine tuning the Corfu Shawl pattern. Every once in a while a particular section of a chart (usually an edging) gives me serious attitude. This has been one of those times. The white swatch really shows how the edging runs into the corner short-rows, separated by the orange thread. The corner has a tear-drop shape. The first picture shows two swatches that Judith Gilbert knit, and the second pictures shows the swatch that I did after I tweaked things with Judith's advice. That swatch has a thin blue thread you can see on close inspection. We both think it might be just purrfect, but I feel compelled to try it once more in a week or two.
When I work on something very intensely, I find that I know the pattern almost too well. I will completely miss obvious errors in a chart.

Monday, October 8, 2007

What IS on my needles?

So it isn't a sampler. I have one or two of those on my needles, but I had a design just exploding out, so I gave in and cast-on. Here are my materials. Beads and lace. How novel... And a larger view of the swatch crumpled on the needle... One item worth sharing is the way I set my charts up. Usually, I don't need anything special to read my charts. I can memorize a basic chart very quickly. But some charts don't fit in my brain that neatly. This design is one of them. I often knit in meetings and at conferences; Also while watching a movie. To help prevent errors, I do this:
I copy the chart once for each charted row and use a highlighter to mark one row on each sheet. I trim them and clip them together. When I finish a row I move that sheet to the bottom of the stack and the next row is highlighted and waiting for me! Lovely.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

New Friends

Last weekend we had company across the street when we came home from work. There you see Della, grazing in the church yard. Della is a lovely mule, who travels with Patricia and Bud Kenny. They are walking across the country (and maybe the world) with Della pulling their wagon. We had the fine pleasure of meeting them and spending some time getting to know them.Their wagon is designed by Bud, with great care to keep the weight low and the efficiency high. Patricia rides when they are in the city or on hills, to work the break and make things safer and easier on Della. When they left my street, to spend a few days rest in my friend Janet's large yard one town north, they let my daughter ride along. You can read more about these really great people on their website:
They are traveling in New York State right now, moving north in the Hudson Valley. If you see them wish them my best!

I had a bad day with my camera, and all the new pictures of what is on my needles and the good stash I had to show you got pulled into the black hole of high tech. I will try again later in the week...

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Moving right along...what is on my needles?

Right now, I am all about samplers. I have a pattern (really more like a home study) based on a sampler that I designed, which I am hoping to have ready for distribution in the near future. I am re-knitting it in a finer gauge and tweaking the charts and instructions. I have already put together a workshop based on the sampler, which covers several useful lace knitting techniques. I will post pictures of my progress later this week. Here is the original sampler I designed.
I have found some really nice Internet resources for those of you interested in samplers:
Museum of Fine Arts in Boston:
Some excellent knit sampler photographs. Outstanding...
Needle Arts Bookshop:
A nice sampler photograph
The Textile Museum:
A PDF file of textile collections all over the place
Island Wool Garden website:
The virtual studio of Catherine M. Thomson, a brilliant lace knitter. The second link is a pattern for a small sampler from Ms. Thomson's website.
A Yahoogroup based on sampler knitting:
The moonrise website: is owned by Sandy Terp, who is a terrific lace knitter, designer and teacher. She has a kit for an old sampler pattern. You get a copy of the old pattern (in longhand) and Sandy's own lace notation or "shorthand" for the patterns. I am strictly a chart woman, but some people really like this lace "shorthand." You can get just the pattern, or the pattern with a generous supply of yarn.
Take a look at my Flickr pages, at the following link, to see some lovely sampler knitting based on the Susanna Lewis book.
I am also sharing a list of some of my favorite books related to sampler knitting. These are certainly not the only books with good fuel for the sampler fire, but they are the ones I though were most pertinent:

There is a lovely lace sampler in Victorian Knitting Today. I have not knit it, but I have drooled on the pages.
The Fourth Treasury of Knitting Patterns, by the wonderful Barbara Walker, is all about samplers. Some are lace and some are not. A wealth of good information.

This is the Holy Grail of lace knitting, mostly because it is so hard to get. Based on a sampler from the Brooklyn Museum that Susanna Lewis charted, you can reproduce that sampler, errors and all, with this book. A good read.

These three books are a wonderful resource for samplers in both lace and other stitches. The charts are excellent. The text is in German.
There are also wonderful books for lace stitches and for edgings, if you want to design your own samplers. Maybe we will go there in the near future. In the mean time, knit on!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Yahoogroup it is...

The poll deadline is not here yet, but the numbers have spoken. The Yahoogroup will be a focused group to knit The Veil of Isis and other BadCatDesigns. Most people want to knit Isis, but other designs are fine too. I will copy all the Isis files to the file section of the list in the next week or two. There already are several lists for lace knitters to chat on, so this will be mostly knitting and minimal off-topic stuff. If you want to join us, send an email request here:
I'll moderate lightly and it won't be intensive tutorials. Just some low key support!