KnittingBulletIf you are inclined to cast-on tightly, use two needles held together or use a larger needle than suggested to ensure the first row is easier to knit. If you used two needles, remove the second needle before knitting the first row. This technique will also make the edge more elastic. KnittingBulletTo create a firmer edge, you can either cast-on stitches with the yarn doubled or use smaller needles. Another option is to cast-on ten to twenty percent fewer stitches for the ribbing, then increase to the required number of stitches after the last row of ribbing. KnittingBulletWhen casting-on pieces to be later, leave a tail of yarn 30.5 cm to 40.5 cm (12 in to 16 in) long. Use the tail to sew the seam. To keep the tail out of the way while you’re knitting, ie wrap it on a bobbin.

Our Evening S ‘n B with Cro-Knit and Tunisian Crochet

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chocolate-babkaLast night’s S ‘n B was very nice and quaint. It was just three of us there. We shared left-over Tu B’Shvat dried fruits and my Chocolate Babka for our munchies. Since there were only three of us there this time, I was also able to give attention to the two others individually – one a crocheter and the other a simple knitter.

Digital CameraI took the chance to share Cro-Knit and Tunisian Crochet. I brought an afghan I’m finishing up in the Afghan Stitch (also known as Tunisian Crochet) and a hat/neckwarmer that I made using a double-ended crochet hook. I gave a quick demonstration on the basic Tunisian Crochet stitch and shared a small book of Tunisian Crochet patterns.Digital Camera

I helped the other gal with her shrug pattern. It seems there was a problem in her keeping the correct amount of stitches. I figured something was going wrong with the yarn-oversYarn_OverThis is the first pattern she has had to use yarn-over’s. I hope she will now get the hang of yarn-overs and give some knitted lacework a try!

Too Cold To Knit!

Thursday NoamsHat_13Dec2013_0002night it started to snow. Friday morning I woke up to everything covered and enough snow on the ground that I knew there was no bus service. I thought it was a perfect time to bake. Before I could get all the ingredients out, the power went off. The power was on and off all day. I finished a tri-peak hat for a friend’s little boy who asked me to make him a hat.

 

Maluka_80percAfter we lost power, I tried to do some knitting. My fingers froze and I couldn’t knit anymore. I gave up on knitting and just crawled under the covers to keep warm.  Too cold to knit! There wasn’t much warm water to wash and block a variegated purple Maluka shawl.

 

Front_of_House_15Dec2013_0024It took me so long just to walk to my neighbor’s house, two houses away. The snow was up to my knees. I had Shabbat dinner with my neighbors. The power went off and on several times during the meal. Around 9:30pm the power went off and was off all night. I left for home about 10:30pm and it was so light out from the snow. It was amazing!

 

All day Shabbat I was waiting for the power to come back on so I would have some heat.  My neighbor called out to me when she was throwing out her trash. She asked if I had hot food for lunch. She brought over some of her hamin and jachnun. Only in Israel! Too cold to knit! If I thought it would keep me warm, I might have considered knitting during the power outage, but Shabbat is Shabbat. I put on my winter coat and ate the yummy food my neighbor brought me.

Choco_13Dec2013

After I ate, I let my dog outside. She tried to go out of the yard, but the snow was too deep for her. She turned around quickly and came back towards the door. She did her business under my pergola where there wasn’t as much snow and couldn’t get back inside fast enough. We both couldn’t get back under the covers fast enough! Too cold to knit! Too cold to do much of anything!

 

I hope it warms up enough soon so I can get back to my knitting!

sleeves to my cardigan

sleeves to my cardigan

My Newest Knitting Student

My newest knitting student is 9 years old and started learning this summer. I’m teaching her in Hebrew, so the knitting terms are different, ie knit is “right” and purl is “left”. I started her off with the long-tail cast-on and the garter stitch using the throw method (English or American). I had her doing swatches of the garter stitch, stockinette and ribbing. She is really enjoying herself.

 

My newest student’s first real project is a simple dishcloth with an eyelet border. She taught herself how to hold the yarn over her finger while knitting. She has watched me knit and wants to learn to knit the way I do, the picking (or Continental) method most of the time these days.  I told her to first get real comfortable with her current knitting style and with knitting in general, I’ll then teach her the Continental method.

 

We have already decided her next project will be a headband with a bow, which she wants to make for her little niece. She then wants to make a scarf for her dad. She came to my last S ‘n B and had a really nice time. My newest student wants to join us again for our next S ‘n B this Wednesday, July 31st at Art Coffee Michael at 5:30. She’ll have her 2 hour lesson with me before and then we’ll go to the café together.

Tsfat S ‘n B

3Jul2013_AnnThis evening’s S ‘n B had a very special guest – a friend (who happens to be my best friend’s sister) from Southern California joined us. It was a great place to catch up while knitting. We met again at a great local café, Art Coffee. I showed her two shawls I designed using some wool that she gave me on a visit with my parents in California. One shawl I am using wonderfully soft alpaca which hasMaluka_0008_27Jun2013 stripes of faggoting and the other is a Faroese Shawl with a gusset. I have made the gusset and also started on one of the side triangles. I brought my finished cabled arm cosies and Maluka Shawlettte (more like a scarf) to show also show her and the other gals.

 

We had a nice show and tell this evening. One of the gals is nearly finished (just needs to add buttons) a jumper for her granddaughter and started a hooded poncho in matching yarn. One of our newcomers shared a baby sweater she is making a quickie on large needles came with her granddaughter. Her granddaughter made a crochet flower while with us.

 

3Jul2013_ShiraThese 100% wool, from hand-spun wool, including her own goat’s contribution, socks are nearly finished. I’m waiting to see this summer top when it’s finished.

3Jul2013_Elaine

One of the gals ordered the dessert blintzes (they were filled with chocolate and nuts). She said they were really rich and she decided to take them home! We don’t just each dessert – two gals shared a huge green salad. This was our largest turn out to date! Some of us were surprised the time to leave had come so quickly! Looking to forward to our next S ‘n B get together in a couple of weeks.

Re-using Yarn

frogged_yarnI decided to re-use the yarn from a hooded wrap that I didn’t like once it was made up. It’s a nice variegated cotton and viscose blend. I frogged this Rimrock Cape. I believe it was really because I didn’t like the way the color combination played out and it wasn’t as long and flowy as the pattern. Guess I knitted it too tightly. I do want to make it again and hopefully, I’ll choose the right combination and proper gauge.

 

I just finished knitting a small shawlette, Maluka by Bea Schmidt. It was a easy pattern and knitted up quickly. If you want something to just cover your shoulders, this is a great pattern. I was really disappointed because it was much smaller than I expected.

Maluka_0008_27Jun2013

I’m using more of the same yarn for another shawlette, but this one is approximately 50 cm (19¾”) high. Diva by Drops has a beautiful lace pattern and would be great for both winter and spring (with seasonally appropriate yarn).

 

More when I finish the Diva shawlette – just now casting-on.

Natural Fiber Yarns

I was asked by a friend about natural fiber yarns. What’s the difference between mohair, cashmere wool blends, etc. Natural fiber yarns include cotton, bamboo, wool, plant fibers, silk, linen (flax), hemp, jute and Seacell®.

seacell_silkSeacell® is made from combining cellulose and seaweed, a variant of lyocell. When Seacell® is combined with a luxurious silk, the fiber has a beautiful drape a wonderful sheen. Seacell® is very breathable, pleasing to the touch and soft.

cotton

 

Cotton comes from cotton plants. Cotton has a cooling effect on the body, absorbs moisture and dries quickly. Cotton does stretch. Not all knitting stitch patterns work well with 100% cotton yarns.

bamboo

Bamboo comes a woody evergreen plant which is the largest species in the grass family. Bamboo, besides being soft, has natural antibacterial properties and is highly absorbent. Bamboo is best when combined with other fibers. 100% bamboo fiber splits and stretches.

 

juteJute comes from the stem of the jute plant and was historically used for rope twine. Jute is used by man for macramé. Jute is fire and heat resistant, but best combined with other fibers for knitting and crocheting.

 

 

flaxenLinen (flax) is derived from the stem of the flax plant. It is one of the oldest known fibers for textiles. Linen draws moisture away from the body, durable and great to wear in the summer and warm climates. It is a heavier fiber, therefore it is usually spun  very fine.

 

kid_mohairKid Mohair is much softer than Mohair, although not as soft or as hairy as Angora. Kid Mohair comes from the first cut of the goats.

 

 

mohair_pureMohair comes from the Angora Goat. Mohair doesn’t felt like wool. It is both resilient and durable. It is flame resistant, naturally elastic, and durable. Knitting with 100% mohair may never return to its original size due to it being heavy and does stretch out. Best to use mohair blends with wool for elasticity and other fibers for strength.

 

cashmereCashmere comes from the Cashmere Goat. The word cashmere is derived from an old spelling of Kashmir (the Kashmir region in India). Cashmere is very fine, soft, light weight and strong.

 

 

angora_rabbitAngora wool comes from the Angora Rabbit. Angora is known for its softness, fluffiness (referred to as halo) and thin fibres. Angora is much warmer and lighter than wool. Typically 100% angora is used for accents, not entire garments. Normally angora is combined with other wools for yarn elasticity. Most commercial knitting yarns use 30-50% angora.

 

Alpacas2Alpaca is the fleece from the alpaca. Alpaca fiber is similar in structure to sheep wool but is much stronger than sheep wool. The fiber comes from the undercoat of the alpaca. The fiber of the alpaca is very fine and light. Alpacas come in 22 natural colors and numerous shades from a pure black to browns, to pure white, silvery-gray to rose-grays.

Alpacas

Baby Alpaca is four times warmer than regular alpaca of the same weight yarn. It is softer and downier than regular alpaca. Alpaca is naturally hypoallergenic and may be hand-washed or dry-cleaned.

 

 

baby_camelCamel hair is extremely soft, lightweight, warm, lustrous and durable. Usually it is blended with sheep’s wool to make it more economical. It has also been combined with silk fibers. Camel yarn must be dry-cleaned.

 

 

silkSilk yarn is made from the thread-like filaments the silkworm spins around itself to form its cocoon. A single filament, when unwound, may be as long as 1,600 yards and has beautiful luster, drape and strength. Silk is similar to animal hair fibers – it doesn’t conduct heat, thus silk is also a good insulator, keeping you warm in winter, and cool in summer. There are basically three grades of silk, each from the three different stages of silk processing, giving each of them their own beauty.

The finest quality silk is the unwound filament, and is referred to as reeled silk, having a satiny smoothness and its pure white color. The raw material for carded or combed, spun silk yarn is what’s remaining from the reeling process, as well as the discarded cocoons and is slightly honey-colored. After the carding or combing process there are short fibers left behind which are used to make silk noil yarn, a richly textured nubby silk.

silkworm

Tussah silk is produced from undomesticated silkworms, resists dyeing and bleaching, so it is often used in its natural beige or brown color.shetland_sheep

Shetland comes from sheep raised in the Shetland Islands. Their undercoats are very fine, mostly used in the production of high-end yarns and only available in limited quantities and natural colors.

Wool is sheep’s wool. Lambswool is usually referred to as Virgin Wool. Lambswool comes from the first shearing and is the highest quality of sheep’s wool. It is supremely soft, smooth, elastic and resilient. Lambswool is resistant to dust mites and the most hypoallergenic of all wools. It felts less than other wools.

Superwash is a wool yarn that is machine washable. The yarn has been treated (a patented process) to be machine washable. Superwash wools tend to stretch a little more than normal. It’s very important to do a gauge swatch with a superwash wool to see how much stretch there will be. Superwash does not felt.

Dream to Reality

For years I’ve dreamt of having a knitting group here in Tsfat. I only knew one other English-speaking knitters that was interested. I really wasn’t ready to have a group of Hebrew speakers to sit with, especially when most of the knitters I knew were Russian! Not that I don’t want to spend time with Russians and/or Israelis, I just didn’t want to be in a knitters group that would require speaking Hebrew! I do enough of that and really want my fun time to be with English speakers.

 

Art Coffee Mikael

Art Coffee Mikael

Our first gathering was really wonderful! We met at Art Coffee Mikael at 17 Jerusalem Street, Tsfat. There were 6 of us for our first get together. One went to the wrong café and never found us, and the two women from out-of-town had to cancel last-minute.

Tsfat_S_n_B_1st_03Tsfat_S_n_B_1st_01Tsfat_S_n_B_1st_0

IMG_0912Tsfat_S_n_B_1st_02Tsfat_S_n_B_1st_04

shakshuka

shakshuka

There was a lot of helping at the beginning. We knitted and enjoyed delicious food,huge salads, mini pies & ice cream, shakshuka (egg & tomato dish) and labneh (goat yogurt cheese). There was lovely music playing in the background.

 

We’ve decided to meet twice a month, once in the early evening and once around lunch time (12:30pm). We decided to have our World Wide Knit in Public Day (week of June 8th-16th) to be Thursday, June 13th at Gan HaIr at 4pm (so we hopefully miss the hottest heat of the day).

world_wide_knit_in_public

I’m looking forward to our World Wide Knit in Public Day next week!

Fun Day Knitting

Gathering2013_01Yesterday was the Fifth Annual Gathering for the Yarn and Falafel Ravelry Group. This was the annual gathering of all the knitters, crocheters, spinners, felters here in Israel. It was a lot of fun!!

I arrived at the gathering spot, Ganey Yehushua, Park Hayarkon in Tel Aviv by 7:15am! My neighbor usually goes to work at 5:30 am and thought that would be just perfect for me to catch a ride to town with him and catch the 6am bus to Akko – to catch the 8am train to Tel Aviv. My neighbor said that he is taking a course on Friday mornings now in Be’er Sheva and offered me a ride to Yokne’am. While waiting for the 6am bus to Tel Aviv, a young taxi driver stopped and offered me a ridiculously crazy price to Tel Aviv – 5 shekels more than the bus fare and he would drop me off exactly at the part of the park we met. Hence, I arrived early to the park.

yoga sock

yoga sock

I found myself a nice picnic table to keep an eye out for Esther – I knew she’d be arriving about 8:30. I ate my yogurt and knitted a second yoga sock while waiting. So glad Esther arrived early! Got a chance to visit and stake out our spot while waiting for everyone else to arrive.

TheSoulWoolSilkre was lots of yummy yarn, good company, great food and nice weather. It was great seeing people I hadn’t seen since the last gathering I was at – Revi, who happens to be my 3rd cousin once removed, taught Tunisian Crochet (also known as the afghan stitch), Marina and Roberta (the photographer – thanks for these pics) and meet some new people.Roberta2013_01Gathering2013_05

I was able to get a matching skein of Soulwool cotton/viscose from Julia, owner of MyYarnStore so I can finish the bottom ruffle on the Sanibel Wrap.

Gathering2013_08

While showing my Japanese Wave Shawl to Roberta and Esther, I noticed the 2nd skein didn’t match, so I’ll have to exchange it my next trip to Haifa – it’s beautiful Estonian wool from Esse. I also got some blocking wires and T pins from Astrid and sold some unwanted yarns.blockng_wires

I had a really great time! It was good seeing all of you and can’t wait until next year’s gathering. I walked to the train station very fast because I was afraid I might miss the train and really didn’t want to have to take the next train – I would have arrived back in Tsfat really late – about 6pm. I bought my ticket and up to the platform with 1½ minutes to spare! The train was so full already! Thank you again to the soldier who gave me his seat. It was a nice relaxing ride to Akko and beautiful scenery, especial the sea.Esther2013

Israel_trainThe train arrived late to the Akko station, but still had time to catch the bus to Tsfat. Thank goodness the bus was fairly empty, so I could relax with room to stretch out over 2 seats with my stuff. The bus arrived early to Tsfat which was a nice relief. Got home in plenty of time to relax over Shabbat.

Summer Knitting

mktbag_bikeIt’s funny how people think knitting is something you do only in the winter. Yes, using wool yarns is a great way to keep you warm in the winter while giving you something to do. Knitting in the spring and summer gives you a chance to make a variety of things in light weight fibers. A couple of things on my To Do List are for the chilly spring and summer evenings:Vogue_Lace_mag

Patons Lace and Cable Cardigan

Mohair Wrap by Christine Nissley

Lace Shawl by Alice Halbeisen

Headbands are great for winter, fall, spring and summer. Just use the appropriate fiber and pattern. I have made many lovely lace headbands out of beautiful 100% cotton. You can also make necklaces, bracelets or market bags using cotton yarns.

Digital Camerasummer_yarn

Knitting is relaxing, creative, therapeutic, relieves stress and enjoyable. You can be in a knitting circle (Stitch ‘n Bitch), which allows you to meet new people, share a common interest, have supportive friends, good conversation and swap patterns. There has been a knitting revival and more and more people are learning to knit.

 

Hoping that there soon will be a Stitch ‘n Bitch in Rosh Pina and/or Tsfat. Both Tsfat and Rosh Pina have many creative people and galleries, so it’s about time they join the rest of the world (and other parts of Israel) and have their own Stitch ‘n Bitch groups.