Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Wrapping and the Turning...

For my classes, I try and find small projects that are technique based. Something that would be fun and easy to complete and drive a technique into your brain. Then, the student can go on and know these techniques when the come across them in other patterns or when they make up their own! Easy gauntlets to learn 4-needle techniques, a picot edge or different cast on method for an easy cowl and, the feature of this post, The Ameila Earhart Aviator Cap which is all about wrapping and turning. These techniques together are all you need to make socks, for example. They are also projects that are easy to complete and easy to get a great head start on in a 2 hour class.

In my random internet searching for fun knitting patterns, I came across a website called Head Huggers. It is a site full of free hat patterns all suitable for people undergoing chemo or that have lost their hair due to surgery or other health problems. A very cool site! I found the Aviator Hat pattern on it and just thought it was so amazing. I made one using Louisa Harding Grace in this beautiful silver/blue/indigo colour way. The construction of the hat, the shaping and the head-hugging qualities were so amazing. It's all about W&T - it helps you master the W&T and shows you how to seamlessly shape this head hugging creation.

I contacted the operator of the site to ask if I could use the pattern for a class and she sent back a very nice email saying she'd be delighted. I asked about the designer and was told that all she knew was that she had been living in South America.

Because of the vintage style, it wasn't a very popular class. I was bummed because it's such a fun knit and you learn so much from it. I though later that I should have advertised the class maybe a little better. It could be used as a cap for under your bike or ski helmet, as a fashion statement (which I use it for), or, for the intention on the Head Huggers site, for someone who has lost their hair.

As an aside, I was wearing it one day and someone mentioned it looked like a Pilgrim hat. Now every time I wear it, all I can think of is the Crucible and Winona Ryder screaming, "I saw Goody Good communing with the devil!!!"

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sparkle Fresh Beret Pattern

This is a beret of my design. It was a really fun one and the process was a good one for me too.

I originally made it out of Louisa Harding Mulberry which is 100% silk. The fabric had amazing drape and it looked really good but I should have thought back to my fibre training and known that 100% silk doesn't have memory. It's a long fibre that's slippery and stretches and stretches and stretches with no "snap back" like wool. I thought that adding the Katia Pailettes (which is a thread of nylon with sequins threaded on it) would give it the body it needed but I was still very unhappy with my baggy, streatched out hat.

So, I remade the beret with a silk wool blend. I stuck with Louisa Harding because I'm a fan (hee). This time, I made it with her Grace which is a hand-painted silk/wool blend. It has a beautiful sheen, it's warm, springy and the colours are amazing. I, of course, still used the Katia Pailettes because it wouldn't be "Sparkle Fresh" otherwise.

If you make the beret please feel free to substitute yarns, any DK weight should work (check your guage though!!!). And please add sparkle - beads, Katia Pailettes, sequins - anything to make it sparkle FRESH!

Sparkle Fresh Beret
by Alisa McRonald

This beret was inspired by glamour, texture and luxury. Pop it on your head and you are ready to go out for a night on the town! So simple you can start it with your morning coffee and have it done for your evening cocktail!

One size fits most, approximately 10” in diameter once blocked.

Gauge: 18 sts and 24 rows = 4” (10 cm in Stockinette Stitch
(k every row). Please always check your gauge!

Materials: Two balls Louisa Harding Grace yarn, one ball Katia Paillettes, 3.5mm, 16” circular needle (for brim), 4.5mm, 24” circular needle for hat,
4.5mm set double pointed needles for finishing, darning needle to weave in ends.

Stitches used:
kfb = knit into the front and back of st (increases by 1 st)
ssk = Slip, slip, knit. Slip next two sts as if to knit, one at a time, to right needle; insert left needle into fronts of these 2 sts and k them together.

Using Grace and with 3.5mm circular needles, cast on 80 sts. Mark beginning of round and join. Work circularly in k1, p1 rib for 1 1/2”.

Increase Round:
Switch to 4.5mm circular needles. *K1, KFB repeat from * around – 120 sts.
Continue to knit all sts until piece measures 4 1/2” from beginning. Place 5 more markers evenly spaced around (place marker every 20 sts. Make sure marker at the beg. of round is a different colour or easily identified from the rest.)

Rnd 1(decrease rnd): *Ssk, work to marker, slip marker repeat from * 6 times.
Rnd 2: Work 1 rnd even. Repeat last 2 rounds until 48 sts remain (carefully switch to double pointed needles).

Repeat Rnd 1 only, until 6 sts remain (note: decreasing every round).

Gently remove/cut paillettes from 6” of yarn. Using darning needle thread both ends through 6 remaining sts. Pull extra to inside and secure. Weave in all ends remembering to remove paillettes from any Paillettes yarn that needs to be woven in. Lay hat flat and pin to blocking area in desired shape, mist lightly with water and allow to dry.

Friday, January 15, 2010

February Classes at Passionknit

February Classes at Passionknit
3355 Yonge St. 416-322-0688

Learn to Knit on Four Needles – Easy Wrist Warmers
Don’t be scared! It’s easy and fun! Knitting on four needles allows you to make all sorts of small items in the round. In this class we will be making wrist warmers on 4 needles with a fun picot edging using a beautiful alpaca yarn. Please know how to cast on, bind off, knit and purl. (Pinchy)
$30 plus materials.
Wednesday Feb. 3, 7 – 9pm

Neck Cuddler with Buttons
If you are interested in learning how to make a buttonhole, this class is for you. This is a simple neck cuddler made out of beautiful hand painted Malabrigo yarn. You will learn how to make buttonholes and how to follow a pattern while making this easy and funky project (Peachy)
$30 plus materials.
Wednesday Feb. 10, 7 – 9pm OR
Thursday Feb. 18, 7 – 9pm

Easy Knit Hat
What a fun hat! It’s a great beginner project! You will learn how to cast on, cast off, shape a garment, read a pattern and sew up your project. It’s a quick knit with great results using Debbie Bliss Como yarn. Lofty and lovely! (Peachy)
$30 plus materials.
Thursday Feb. 11, 7 – 9pm OR
Thursday Feb. 25, 7 – 9pm

Passionknit Stitchers’ Night
This is a special night out for our Passionknit customers to come and socialize. Come join us to “unwind” the last Wednesday evening of every month for a fun knitting night. Come and let our array of amazing new yarns and patterns inspire and push your knitting and crochet to the next level. (Free)
Wednesday Feb. 24, 7pm - 9pm

Registration Information:
We keep classes small in order to be able to spend one-on-one time with each student. Please register in advance either by coming into the shop or calling us. Payment in full for the class is due upon registration, please check your schedule and class description carefully, registration fees are non-refundable and non-transferable. We also do not offer make up classes.

If you must cancel a class you have registered for, please notify us at least 48 hours in advance, we will issue you a credit toward another class.

Two-hour classes are $30, which is for the class only. Materials and applicable taxes will be in addition unless otherwise noted. If a class does not run due to low registration or extenuating circumstances, you will be refunded in full.

A 10% reduction on materials costs is offered once you are registered. You may pick out your materials anytime after registration.

Doors will open 15 minutes before class and class will start promptly. Please be on time.

We also welcome suggestions for class ideas – just send us an email or give us a call!

For up-dates on Passionknit events and classes please join our mailing list by calling or emailing us.

Class Rating:
Peachy = Easy
Pinchy = Medium
Persnickety = Difficult

Alisa McRonald, Fibre Arts Teacher
My love of the fibre and textile arts came as soon as I was old enough to sit on my mother’s lap at her sewing machine.

I have been fortunate enough to exhibit my work at galleries and shops in New York, Los Angeles, Asia, England and Canada. It was in the late 1990’s when my work as an artist became solely fibre based.

My interest in hand spinning came first from my love of animals and wanting to learn about yarn production from start to finish. I was able to gain hands-on experience during a two year internship at a small fibre mill / angora goat farm in Elora, Onatrio. During this time, my fibre knowledge was expanded exponentially.

I have been teaching fibre arts classes to both children and adults for several years and I am excited to bring my teaching skills and fibre knowledge to Passionknit. I feel fortunate to be working with a group of people who are amazing knitters and believe in helping people with their endeavors.