machine knitting midgauge standard bulky machknit knit machine-knit patterns

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Texture and drape a la Iris Bishop

The seminar was wonderful. I think there were ten of us from the Machine Knitting Guild of Minnesota who attended. There were 40 some attendees in all. Everyone came away enlightened, impressed, energized, enthusiastic and raring to knit. Iris has such an engaging personality and a great teaching ability. She starts with the basic concept of her Kaleidoscope shawl and builds with the details so that you understand the construction. If you have seen this design, you know how complicated it looks. She uses a basic machine and makes wonderful fabric with it. Texture is her forte' achieved by sparing use of expensive hand knitting yarns and weaving them into the design. She's into knitweaving and the various possibilities with that these days but says she's also itching to get back to fairisle designs. Her garments look like very high end boutique things or one of a kind arty pieces that only the really wealthy could afford. But we can make them on our machines!!!!! Our heads were spinning by the end of the second day because she offered so many neat ideas. Was fun to hear her history in the commercial textile world, too. What an artist! Wow.

The only slight disappointment was that she didn't have enough of her books on hand to sell to all who wanted them. It's understandable that she wouldn't want to haul tons to the States, so she took orders and will mail them to our homes. I ordered the Helix sweater and the Kaleidoscope Project, the two in the pic above on the left. No way can a photo do her knits justice. The texture is soooooooooo yummy and the drape she achieves is out of this world. It was cute---she called her expensive, one ball novelty-type collection as "pets". You fall in love with the yarn but it's so expensive you probably only buy one or two skeins. I think I need MORE pets.

Until my books arrive, I think I'll practice some of the techniques by making scarves. Will share my attempts.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Iris Bishop

Going to an Iris Bishop seminar tomorrow and Saturday. It's being held in Princeton, MN, just north of the Twin Cities and is being hosted by Cindy Schmatz. If you live in the area and would like to sign up, there's still room. You can register for one or both days. Cindy's email address is and her phone number is (763) 389-4309. I'm excited to go. Iris is such a fine artist. One of our guild members saw her demonstrate in Kansas City years ago and said she is also a fantastic teacher. Pictured are covers of some of her books. Sorry you can't see the detail very well. If you click on the pic here, you'll get a larger one and will be able to see the designs better. I have been impressed with her ability to articulate her designs for 24 st punchcards and not have them look like 24 st repeats. Since the electronic machines have come into existence, she doesn't need to restrict herself. But I think those early designs were so clever. I plan to bring cash to buy her latest and greatest. Always nice to be inspired by someone else's creativity. Fun to get away for a couple of days too with like-minded addicts.
This one is going to miss me.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Walking the dog, the 'Smiling Dutchwoman'

Although I don't walk the dog as much as I probably should, I do get out in all kinds of weather. She needs to be on a leash, so I thought I'd do up some felted fingerless mitts to get the job done easily--- for my paws, that is. They turned out pretty nice and I know they'll be warm. I used worsted weight wool on the midgauge machine. Before felting them, I embroidered some flourishes with loose stitches as an experiment. At worst, I thought, they'll pucker up around the embroidery and at best, the embroidery would kind of sit on top of or sink into the rest of the top of the mitt. The later turned out to be the case. So, I'm pretty satisfied with them.
The dawg in question is our Gertie, aka Queen of Holland, as she is called by the hubby. She does look like she's smiling, happy to be on the blog, doesn't she? She's a Keeshond, pronounced KAZE hund. Did a little research on her breed and found lots of info from the American Kennel Club and other places. The Keeshond was named after the 18th-century Dutch patriot, Cornelis (Kees) de Gyselaer, leader of the Dutch rebellion against the House of Orange. The dog became the rebels' symbol, and when the House of Orange was returned to power, this wonderful breed almost disappeared. The word 'keeshond' is a compound word: 'Kees' is a nickname for Cornelius (de Gyselaer), and 'hond' is a Dutch word for dog. In Holland, "keeshond" is the term for German Spitzes that encompass them all from the toy or dwarf (Pomeranian) to the Wolfsspitz (Keeshond). The sole difference between the German Spitzes is their coloring and size guidelines. You might see them referred to as "The Smiling Dutchman".

Another, less popular story, is that way back-originally the breed is the result of a cross between a wolf and a chow chow, in China, a thousand years ago. Who knows? The more widely accepted version is that the Keeshond was developed from the northern sleigh dogs of the Arctic. These spitz type dogs have been around in Holland for hundreds of years. They are believed to have come from Vikings. A legend tells of a Viking ship which sank, with only the captain's son surviving. He was rescued by a Christian fisherman of northern Holland and his dog. The fisherman, the rescuee and the dog all landed on a foreign land and built a chapel to St. Olaf out of gratefulness for finding land. From here a village was built near the Amstel River, which later led to a dam being built. This dam led to the name of the town becoming Amstelredam, which is now currently Amsterdam. Today, the seal of the city shows a ship with a spitz type dog looking over the side of it. Because of this story and other legends, taking a dog on board a ship became good luck. The breed then served as dogs accompanying people to sea on boats and barges, and became known as the Dutch Barge Dog. (Our Gertie HATES water. Bathtub, lake, whatever. She thinks I'm torturing her if I give her a bath. Do you suppose they were bred to NOT jump off the barge into the water?)

First Registered by the AKC: 1930
AKC Group: Non-Sporting
Class: Non-Sporting
Registries: AKC, ANKC, CKC, FCI (Group 5), KC (GB), UKC

Keeshonden tend to be very playful, (Gertie is a stand up comedian) with quick reflexes and strong jumping ability. (At dinner time, she invariably jumps about a foot off the floor to see what's on the stove top for dinner! Never gets close to it, just wants to see what's cookin'.) They are quick learners and eager to please. Because Keeshonden are quick learners, they also learn the things you didn't necessarily wish to teach them - very quickly. However, Keeshonden make excellent agility and obedience dogs. So amenable to proper training is this bright, sturdy dog that Keeshonden have been successfully trained to serve as guide dogs for the blind; only their lack of size has prevented them from being more widely used in this role.

They love children and are excellent family dogs, preferring to be close to their humans whenever possible. They generally get along with other dogs as well and will enjoy a good chase around the yard. Keeshonden are very intuitive and empathic and are often used as comfort dogs. Most notably, at least one Keeshond, Tikva, was at Ground Zero on 9/11 to help comfort the rescue workers. I read an article that said "Tikva" means "hope". The breed has a tendency to become especially clingy towards their owners, even in comparison to other dogs. If their owner is out, or in another room behind a closed door, they may sit, waiting for their owner to reappear, even if there are other people nearby. Many have been referred to as their "owner's shadow," or "velcro dogs".

I don't know about velcro, but this dog is more of a yarn dog. If she were human---she would be a knitter.
Probably a machine knitter. She loves yarn. Being kind of a yarn snob, she loves wool. I have to be careful not to leave any skeins of yarn or cones of yarn within her reach.

We got Gertie from a breeder in Kansas last summer as a 6 month old pup. She was destined to be a show dog like her parents, but the breeder said she had a bit of an underbite, which would cause points to be knocked off her score. O well, so much for glory. She is a beauty anyway and definitely the queen of our household.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Big Foot is Alive! And Well!

The felted slipper/boots turned out great! I was afraid I had overdone the size and they wouldn't fit anyone BUT bigfoot. Amazingly, they are perfect. Felting is so unpredictable, I feel lucky. And, the husband says the cuff is just the right height. The picture doesn't do justice to the quality of the felted fabric. They're nice and sturdy. I might look for some fabric paint to make the bottoms less slippery. For now I'm content to let them dry flat. We're going to be in for cool weather, it seems, faster than usual and will need cozy stuff like this.

It was in the 90's when the RNC'ers came to town. Quite a shock to have the temp drop 40 degrees.... to the 50's at night. Makes for great sleeping under the down comforter, but I'm not ready for the cold weather. Summer in MN is never long enough.