Monday, June 15, 2009

Tools of the Trade

I just had to show you a knitting gadget I bought from a fellow Etsian -- Karatstix.

It's a wooden knitting swatch gauge that measures 2 inches by 2 inches. It also measures knitting needle AND crochet hook sizes from tiny to gigantic. There's a ruler along one side in inches and another in centimeters. The tool is too big to lose, but not too big or too heavy for your knitting bag or handbag. It has a safety hook at one corner so you can attach it to whatever you want. Plus, it's the most charming piece of knitting paraphernalia I've ever bought (and I've bought many in my lifetime!) See the little sheep grazing on it?

Here's the front of it:

And here's the back showing clearly the range of needle/hook sizes:

When I went to Karatstix's shop just now to get the pictures of the gauge, I found that she has invented another wonderful gadget - a Kitchener Stitch keyring with hand knitted sock images on the front:

and the elusive Kitchener Stitch described clearly on the back:

Those of you who knit socks know how easy it is to forget how to Kitchener Stitch together the toe of the sock. This little tool makes it foolproof. Kitchener Stitch is useful for all knitters because it makes an invisible join.

All of these knitting gadgets are made in lightweight wood and are smoothly finished as well as being delightful to look at.

Kudos to Karatstix. Go to her shop. Now! -- You'll be glad you did.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Knitted and Crocheted Jewelry Tips

Since the weather has warmed up, I've been making a lot of knitted and crocheted jewelry. It's important when doing this work to be sure to use different thicknesses of yarn and work in different gauges. If you keep on making really tightly knitted or crocheted fine jewelry using tiny needles or hooks, you are eventually going to get hand problems.

Unfortunately, I speak from experience as a person who's had multiple rounds of physical therapy from repetitive stress injury, carpal tunnel syndrome, and most recently DeQuervain's Syndrome (a new one that causes excruciating pain in the wrist). I've been able to conquer them all and have two articles on my website -- -- that deal with these problems. If you're having hand pain, I hope you'll take a look at these -- Ergonomics for Knitters (or Crocheters) and Exercises for Knitters (or crocheters)

You all know about exercises to loosen up your hands, but you may not have heard about ergonomics which is setting up your work to avoid pain in the first place. The way you hold your yarn and needles (or hooks) will influence how your body reacts to hours of knitting and crocheting. Your posture when working and the kind of chair you sit in are also important.

In addition to the ergonomics and exercises, I've found it important to vary gauge so that you go from using tiny needles and hooks to large ones, and from using thin threads to larger yarns. The way you hold a small crochet hook is very different from the way you hold a large one. The tightness of the work will also affect your hands, so try to vary between tight knitting and crochet and looser work.

For example, I crocheted this Hyacinth Ruffle Choker with a tiny
vintage steel hook and yarn not much thicker than sewing thread. It took hours of tight work. When I finished, I really needed a rest.

The next piece I worked on -- Ocean Fantasy Lariat -- is crocheted in
a much larger scale using cotton worsted weight yarn. It's very long so it took awhile, but it was much easier on my hands than the Hyacinth.

Another recent piece is my Sweetpea Necklace. It's made with thread in between the two others, about fingering yarn weight. The necklace is
crocheted over a metal base and the sweetpea needed to be worked tightly so this was hard on the hands too.

As you can see nature, and especially flowers, have a big influence on my work. So guess what I love to do when I'm not knitting or crocheting? Gardening! This is not kind to the hands either. I've been out of physical therapy for my hands for many months now.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

3 + 2 + 1 + 1 + 1 -- Babies!

I'm still giddy from the change of temperature and season. I posted some spring things and then a mother's day inspiration and now, as promised, here are some babies. I have so many wonderful pictures that baby photographers have sent me I don't know which to choose, but the triplets and twins head the list.

I'll start with a photo sent to me by one of the most talented baby photographers -- Gina Miller of Gina Miller Photography in Indianapolis, Indiana. Her website is and her blog is . I hope you'll get a chance to look at both because they really are an inspiration.

She wrote to me and asked me to make three of my signature BurryBabies Pixie Hats for triplets she was going to be photographing right after they were born -- two girls and a boy. This turned out to be quite a challenge for her since when they weren't wiggling they were howling! How anyone could photograph triplets is beyond me, but not as beyond me as how anyone could care for triplets! Gina's great talent is in capturing the personality of her subjects, even if they're only 1 day old.

At any rate, she took some adorable photos of the triplets. Here are two of them:


Hope that little boy doesn't spend a lifetime being ganged up on by his sisters!


Next is a photo of darling boy-girl twins that was photographed by Jennifer Mott another great photographer and a sweet person. You can see her work at She's located in Toledo, Ohio.


Aren't they adorable?


Now I have to choose from the many pictures of babies taken just one at a time by an assortment of brilliant photographers. How will I choose? For the sake of brevity, I'm just going to add three more babies here, but if you want to know about other baby photographers who might be in your area, please don't hesitate to contact me.

First off, here's a darling photo of a just born baby girl taken by Jackie Pettit of Jackie Pettit Photography in Morgan, Utah. Her website is and when you go there, you'll see a photo of a beautiful older baby wearing one of my multicolored hats. You can really see from her photos what an encouraging and friendly person she is.


Is that not the prettiest newborn girl ever? Well, maybe your daughter was even prettier -- mine was -- but I don't have a photo that cute of her. Jackie's pictures are really lovely, so please take a look at her website.


Next up is a photo taken by the talented Elizabeth Smith of EBS Photography in Atlanta, Georgia. Her website is . The opening page on her website features another sweet picture of a baby in this green hat.


Everyone who sees that baby just loves him. He looks so cozy and sweet all curled up.


Finally, I'm going to stop with a photograph of a new baby boy taken by the delightful, talented, and friendly Barbara Frevert. To find her, just google Barbara Frevert Photography. She's located in Wayne, Nebraska.


Do you love that little starfish hand as much as I do?


So that's it folks! All babies all the time today!

In my next post I hope to be writing about my jewelery design process and offer some useful tips. I hope you'll stop by.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Mothers and Babies

I've been thinking about Mother's Day lately. (My three children -- Are you reading this??? :-)

Actually, I've been making a lot of things for mothers in the spirit of springtime. My next post will be about babies, so I'm definitely on a roll here -- First spring flowers (more to come), then mothers, then babies (wait till you see the triplets). Lot's of fertility in this blog (*_*)

I have my usual shawls, capelets, and cowls, but decided to design some new knitted and crocheted jewelry for the holiday.

Thinking about mothers reminded me of the time and effort we spend on our children. The returns are, of course, intangible and altruistic. So I thought maybe something literal would be appropriate. Hence --

A Medal for Mom...

I'd like to share my design process here in case you're curious and since this blog is a "trip inside the mind of a knitwear designer". I first crocheted a triangular motif in lace using 6-strand embroidery floss and a tiny crochet hook. Then I added a heading at the top and embroidered "MOM". After that came the cameo button, then the ribbons and antique lace, and finally a safety catch pin back -- and voila! -- a One of a Kind Gift for a One of a Kind Mom. I hope you like it!

You'll see many Mother's Day Gifts at my Etsy shop where you can sign on for my RSS and see updates as I add new items.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Signs of Spring

The daffodils and forsythia shrubs are blooming in my garden. This time of year I always find myself thinking about my garden and making scarves and necklaces to reflect it.

Springtime Daffodil Choker

You can get more information about it at

Forsythia Yellow Lace Hand Knitted Scarf

You can find more information about the scarf and purchase it at

If you want to knit this scarf yourself, I also produced a pdf pattern --

Delicate Lace Scarf PDF Knitting Pattern

There's more information about the pattern and how to purchase it at

Of course, you can make the scarf in any color you like, but I was inspired by my forsythia shrubs. I've also knitted the scarf in a creamy white and in a lovely coral color. Please contact me or post a comment on this blog if you want to see photos of them or get more information.

Meantime, watch for other signs of spring from KnittingGuru -- hint -- tulips and hyacinths are starting to bloom.

Happy Spring Everyone!

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Is it the Zeitgeist?

I took a walk along 5th Avenue in NYC last week and noticed that there was a lot of orange to be seen in the department stores and boutiques. Now NYC is a basically black town. Everyone wears black all the time in all seasons. Yet, I saw orange in solids, patterns, and all shades from deep rust to bright orange. Does this have to do with the wretched economic times? Is there some designers' conspiracy to brighten us all up?

I have no answers to this - just the observation of orange. This is not a problem for me because although I wear black most days, I do like to add some touches of bright color.

My bright red shawl is shown in my last post. Here are some pictures of an orange shawl I made recently -- but before I took that walk on the Avenue.

In addition to orange, I just love lace, especially hand knitted and crocheted lace which I love to combine in one garment.

The beautiful handmade palm wood shawl pin is just right for fastening a lace shawl. It was made by a talented wood worker on Etsy.

This shawl looks lovely without the shawl pin too and it does stay in place because of it's length and texture.

The fine weight of the lace in this shawl means that it can be gathered together and worn as a huge scarf too. The shawl pin comes in handy here again.

Technically, this shawl is a stole since it's rectangular in shape whereas a true shawl is triangular like the red one in the last post. For this orange shawl I used a lace stitch that forms long ladders. A stole seemed more in keeping with the spirit of the thing. I also added a crocheted zigzag lace to the ends to emphasize the rectangular quality.

I'd love to hear your thoughts about this shawl, so please feel free to comment.

You can find out more about the stole and/or purchase it in my Etsy shop .

Happy Spring! You know it's coming soon!
This March really did come in like the proverbial lion, so let's hope it goes out like a lamb.

On the other hand, why wait for spring to wear this? I knitted the shawl with a gorgeously soft wool that will be perfect through all four seasons.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Your Still Delinquent KnittingGuru

As you can see, I've continued to be an absentee in my own blog. However, I have joined Twitter - - where the minuscule number of words seems within daily reach for me. I hope you'll follow me there.

Readers: I promise to do better and I'll start by showing you some of my new knitting and crochet. I've been in a Romantic Victorian Period. My shawls, capelets, and cowls have a definite retro look going back more than a century. I look backward for inspiration, but my yarns decidedly update the look.

The three garments shown here are all examples of my knit and crochet combination technique. I love to knit the main part of a garment and finish with crochet. The crochet always seems to add a more sculptural quality. All of these are made with the softest possible wool yarns, some with alpaca blended in.

Romantic Red Shawl

Victorian Ruffles and Lace Bolero

Sugar Sweet Soft Wool Shrug

All work shown is © KnittingGuru, 2009.