January 30, 2008


I'll be having a booth again this year at the Madrona Fiber Arts retreat in Tacoma in mid-February. And I was longing to have some new and different shop sample garments this year. But, you know those blues I've been singing, about how I'm already so overwhelmed with knitting homework for Nihon Vogue class, on top of all the other things I need to do to keep Two Swans swimming, that I just didn't see how I was going to fit in the knitting of sample garments, too.

Time to call in the hired guns.

After Anne made the Duxbury Point pullover for me, she was willing to finish knitting the Autumn Rose that I'd started. No trip to Portland could be complete without seeing her, and so last Sunday we met for dinner and she handed to me my Autumn Rose.


(Pardon my clenched-teeth expression -- I was trying to smile through my shivers and keep my hair from blowing into my face -- it's cold enough to snow!)

I had felt some attachment to this project. It was hard for me to hand over Autumn Rose to another knitter, after I'd already started her. But, realistically, I knew I wasn't going to get it knitted by the time of the retreat.

Anne was a really good sport about it, too. She picked right up where I left off, matching my gauge. She kept on with the DK weight in the solid rows, as I had done when I'd started, even though that meant switching balls of yarn more often, and more spit splicing. I requested a higher, more modest neckline, and she indulged me in this request, even though that threw off the stitch count for picking up the neckline and also meant that, once the raglan sleeves were attached and she was knitting the top yoke, following the charts was more difficult because she was now in a different place than the published pattern. (Notice how my sweater's neckline begins after a full repeat of the rose, whereas the original sweater has the neckline beginning in the middle of a repeat. Starting in the middle of a repeat bothered me, visually, and I am glad to have a higher neckline, too.) After trying the neckband using graduated needle sizes as per the written pattern, Anne ripped all of that out because it seemed to pull in too much, and just went with knitting the neckband on size US 2s. You can see that the neckband lies nicely flat on me.

Similarly, I wanted a pair of the Rovaniemi fingerless mitts for display in my booth. And who better to hire to knit them for me, than Seattle Knitter's Guild member Sirkku Bingham, who is a native of Finland and learned the Rovaniemi technique in elementary school?


Did I mention that it was cold enough to snow, here? We've been having intermittent snow showers, followed by rain to wash it all away, followed by snow again, since Sunday.

Sirkku sent me a sweet note with the finished mitts, saying that knitting them had brought back memories for her. And the mitts are charming! The blue and green colors go well together. I especially like the lines of the gusseted thumb. (I'll try to get a picture of that, tomorrow.)

I had sent Sirkku a set of yarns that I'd kitted up:


and she sent back the leftovers along with the mitts. And there were a lot of leftovers! I'm thinking that a knitter could get two pairs of mitts out of one kit . . . but I don't want to guarantee that! I am kitting up the yarns by weight, winding off one-quarter of the colored skeins and including one whole skein of off-white, because that seems the most efficient way for me to prepare a kit. Do with the leftover yarns what you will.

Behind the scenes, I also have Feral Knitter June working on a pair of fingerless gloves, and Sirkku is working on a vest. My booth this year will be wonderful, thanks to the contributions of all three of these knitters. And I'll be wearing my simple stockinette top-down raglan -- so if you're attending the retreat, stop by and say hi, and I will be accepting compliments on my plain little sweater, too!

If you have a knitting project that you're ready to hire a professional to help you finish, you can contact Anne Berk at the yarn shop where she teaches and does finishing work in Portland, Knit/Purl, or Sirkku Bingham at Pinchknitter.com.

Posted by Karen at January 30, 2008 01:18 PM

Love the mittens and I can't wait to order a kit. Oh wait, I have to learn how to knit like that first. Darn. Love your autumn rose. Mine will be done I hope in time for NEXT fall. I am going to have to figure out something about that pesky armscye shaping that seems to be causing a lot of fit problems.

Posted by: Leah at January 31, 2008 10:13 AM

Oh wow.... I so wish I could come to the retreat - just to see your booth! You look so pretty in your Autumn Rose sweater. I'm definitely getting a mitten kit.

Posted by: Jewel at February 1, 2008 08:07 PM

Good for you for the higher neckline - such a gorgeous pattern but we're not all 20-somethings. What about writing up the changes as a sellable amendment people can buy - I think that neckline is stopping a LOT of people from knitting it up. You could always check with the author to see if that would be kosher or if you'd have to give it away as a freebee. I'm assuming you'll have lots of the Rovanwhatsie article in the magazine for sale with the kits?

Posted by: Linda "K" at February 2, 2008 01:46 PM

Wow! The Autumn Rose is awesome! You are so lucky! Looks great! How can I find an Anne? :)

Am looking forward to seeing the raglan in person! I'm so glad you feel good about the result! I'm sure I'll wear mine one day as well.

Hope you are well.

Posted by: Naomi at February 3, 2008 01:10 PM

I forgot to mention - good luck with the booth! See you there!

Posted by: Naomi at February 3, 2008 01:12 PM

Hooray! I can't wait to see them in person.

Posted by: Ann at February 4, 2008 06:08 PM

Last year, your booth was hands-down the most attractive and versatile vendor at Madrona. Happily for attending knitters, other vendors rose to your high standards this year. I still think you're the best!!! Two Swans has set a standard of customer service that truly attracts the serious knitter.

Posted by: Gail at March 6, 2008 11:20 PM