Review: Knitting With Rainbows – Carol Feller

I can put away my wallet for just about anything but a good book.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be reviewing some of my favourite fall releases. 

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Gradient yarns are everywhere!  And we are spoiled with a myriad of choices…handpainted single skein gradients, cake dyed single skein gradients and mini skein sets like our own Tornadoz. Some colour shifts are subtle; some dramatic. We are seduced by the possibilities for the colours, but often paralyzed by choice.

This is where Knitting With Rainbows comes in. Carol Feller’s new book is a manual for breaking down what kind of gradient you have in your hands, and which techniques work best to show off the colour shifts to their best advantage.

Carol guides us through different types of gradients, how they’re constructed and then matches each one up with techniques that shows it off magically. A handy chart guides you through looking for techniques that work best with the gradient you have in your hands, while using patterns in the book as examples. Each chapter guides you expertly through a different technique, including “yarn management” tips that help you make the colours in your gradient flow smoothly through the entire project.

In fact, those tips alone are plenty. At this point in my knitting life, I am deeply attracted to books that teach me new things. Teach me techniques. Inspire me to be more creative. Just as a technique manual, this book will live with others that I reach for often.

But the patterns!

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Stave Hat borrows its inspiration from the Bohus tradition. Combining texture and subtle shifts in a simple colour pattern with a dramatic effect.

 

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Probys artfully combines a mini skein gradient with a slipped stitch pattern that uses the gradient to every inch of it’s advantage. Whether using a subtle gradient, or a set of colours cobbled from yarn scraps in your stash, these are a wonderful “go to” gift project.

 

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Mardyke takes my breath away. Shifting the fabric on its axis, shifts the colours was well. I love the juxtaposition of the angles of the fabric/colour vs the lace. It keeps my eye moving and appreciating every inch.

 

 

Knitting With Rainbows is an excellent addition to your library and suitable gift for adventurous knitters of any level. Purchase directly from Carol on her website in both digital and print/digital formats, or Ravelry (digital only)

 
(All photos ©Joseph Feller/Stolenstitches.com)

Blog Tour: From Folly Cove

Today I’m hosting a stop on the From Folly Cove blog tour for  Julia Farwell-Clay new collection for Classic Elite.  There’s all the news you need to know about From Folly Cove is here on Julia’s blog.
What I love about Julia’s designs, is a traditional sensibility meshed seamlessly with well thought out details that make her pieces inherently wearable and comfortable while making you feel like you’ve created a special piece for your wardrobe.
One of the things I am most curious about is where designers find their inspiration, and how they carry that inspiration forward through the design process.  I asked Julia to talk about the Kenyon Dress in From Folly Cove and to share what drew her to create this  piece.
Kenyon is inspired by Folly Cove designer Louise Kenyon’s most popular pattern is called Home Port.
Kenyon 1
Compare this to the dress and you can see the connection. I took my cues here from the horizontals, and used gansey like textures (although I don’t think any of them qualify as actual gansey patterns, in order from the bottom up, diamonds, checkerboards, a slip stitch smocking stitch, and the top row is interlocking hearts).  The stripes used to outline each section are also nautical in their design inspiration. They come from french striped sailor shirts, called Marinières.
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Another special detail is the lace hem of this dress, which echoes both the nautical theme and the texture from the bodice. I think it also gives the dress a playful feel, reminding me of waves rolling into the beach.
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Today’s prize is for the Kenyon Dress.  Leave a comment on this post, telling us which pattern in Julia’s new collection you would like to knit most and why, and we will use a random number generator to award one of you a free copy of the pattern. Deadline for comments is Thursday February 5 at 5 pm Eastern.
Meanwhile, the whole collection is 10% off on Ravelry all week, so enter the code FFC10 at checkout for your 10% discount on any purchase of one or more of the collection’s patterns,  or even the whole ebook!
Tomorrow, the blog tour continues with Talitha Kuomi.  At the end of the week, check into the Classic Elite Blog for a chance to win yarn for the project of your choice from the book.

 

Not Your Average Needle Sharing Program

Yes, many of you think of us as your dealers.  And in that spirit, we’d like to let you know that we’ve become ACTUAL dealers for Dyak Craft needles.  I’ve been using Tom and Linda’s circular needles for about 6 months and LOVE them.  I am now completely spoiled and can’t knit with anything else without feeling like it’s an inferior experience.

Our much anticipated first order arrived on Monday, so go see what we have in stock!

Along with the circulars was a set of the Dyaks’ new interchangeable needles, wrapped up in this handmade roll-up case.

Dyak Craft Needles

Open it up, and there are little pockets for all the needle tips, cords and the stops.

Dyak Craft Needles

All the pockets are labelled. There are only 2 things I’d change about this case: I’d add a little snap or flap to hold the stops in their pocket, and I’d add metric sizes to the needle tip pockets. (I actually did this myself with a thin Sharpie). The fabrics used are great: durable canvas twill for the lining and pockets, subtley patterned cotton for the outside and gross grain ribbon to tie it all together.

But what you really want to know about is the needles, right? Because you’ve been looking for the PERFECT interchangeble set, and you’re wondering if this one is it? Well, here are my thoughts after a week with these needles…

The Needle Tips

The needle tips are longer than most interchangeables. This means more needle in your hand. I have very small hands and didn’t think this would make a big difference. It does. I actually feel like I have more control over my knitting. My hands feel more relaxed, because the needles feel really great in my hands. They’re lighter in weight than other interchangeables I’ve tried. All of this means less hand fatigue.

The tips of the needles themselves are pointy, but not SUPER pointy. They do, however, have an amazingly smooth taper, which makes them ACT super pointy. I’ve compared the tips to the tips of my other wood interchangeables and tried the two side by side. The Dyak needles slide into my stitches more easily and readily.

Dyak Craft Needles

The Screws

These are the screws…

Dyak Craft Needles
Seen here on both the needle tips and the stops

…that screw into the end caps

Dyak Craft Needles

The screws are a little difficult to screw in at first, especially towards the end. No little tool is necessary with this set, but Tom suggests keeping a little piece of rubber sheet (like the kind you use to open jars) on hand to help you screw the tips to the caps. The screws are tight and snug. I’ve knit for about 9 hours with one set and there is no sign of the cap becoming unscrewed. It also helps that the cords are not glued in place to the caps. They swivel, which creates less tension between the needle tip and the cord. Less tension on your hands, and less tension on the screws.

The Join

The caps rest fairly snuggly against the needle tips. There is a tiny gap, but not enough to interfere with your yarn.

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The yarn travels easily from the cord, across the cap, to the needle and off.

The Cords

I don’t like really stiff cords. I don’t like cords that curl up and never seem to relax. In fact, I like my cords on the soft side. I was afraid I wouldn’t like these cords because they are a little stiff and they were really curled up when they arrived. While they’re still not my absolute favourite, running them under hot water relaxed them nicely. They support the knitting nicely, and I absolutely love that they’re allowed to swivel and pivot in the cap.

Overall, I really like them and think they’re a worthwhile investment. Good tools allow you to stop thinking about the tool itself and to focus on the making. I especially love the fact that these are artisan made and will be very proud to carry them in our shop.

The Little Swift

Available yarn can be found here. Available fibre is here.

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to be part of the naming party for Tom Bihn’s new knitting bag,  The Swift, and loved the bag so much, I wrote a review of it.

Tom Bihn has recently introduced The Swift’s little sibling:  The Little Swift.  I’ve been in possession of a Little Swift for about 2 weeks now, and it was love at first sight.

Little Swift in Kiwi/Kiwi ballistic nylon, empty

It’s lime green!  (There may have been jumping up and down when I saw it)

The Materials:

The Little Swift is currently available for pre-order (for shipment in July) in Kiwi ballistic nylon, dark brown (Cacao) waterproof Ultrasuede, Cork, and natural Vulcana Hemp/Recycled Rubber.  I’ve spent quality time with all of these materials, except the Cork.

The Ultrasuede is yummy and rich, but I find that pet hair and fluff stick to it quite easily.

The hemp/rubber is very nice.  It was softer than I expected.  I thought it would be a hair/fluff magnet — it wasn’t AT ALL.  It stood up to rubbing, friction and moisture quite well; it would survive a rainstorm/snowstorm well and won’t wear away at your clothes.

The ballistic nylon is my favourite…but that could be because I prefer colour to neutrals.  It’s durable, but soft to the touch…no wearing away at your clothing.  It withstands weather well…on one of our first dates, we had to walk around downtown Toronto in a torential downpour.  Nothing inside got wet.  And the colour is outstanding!

Size Matters:

So what’s the size like in comparison to the Swift?  Here they are lying one on top of the other:

And side by side by side:

Little Swift in Kiwi/Kiwi; Swift in Indigo/Black - both ballistic nylon

The Little Swift is 80% of the size of the Swift, but the handles are the same size!  One of my favourite things about my Swift is that I can pick it up with one hand and swing it over my shoulder.  Lots of elbow clearance, but it still sits solidly on my shoulder without slipping off.  The Little Swift is no different.  Even with a thick sweater and my heavy, down winter coat on, I can still wear the Little Swift on my shoulder.  And the padded handles are still there.  So I can carry it FULL of heavy things and my shoulder/hand is cushioned.

The size is PERFECT for me.  I’m 5′ tall and the Little Swift sits neatly under my arm and nestles into my waist.  I’ve had a few friends of different heights try it on and they all love how the bag feels on.

Side by side comparison of the regular Swift on me (5’0″ tall) and Susanne (5’9″ tall  AND Smart-Ass Knitter/World Domination artisan):

The bottom of the bag hits me at the top of my thigh.  It hits Susanne at mid-hip.

And the Little Swift:

The bottom of the Little Swift hits me at mid-hip, and ends at the top of Susanne’s hip.

But how much can you put in the Little Swift?  I’ve been using it as my “everyday” bag for 2 weeks.  There’s plenty of room for my everyday purse stuff (wallet, glasses, makeup case, etc.) plus a small knitting project and my small knitting tool-case.  Or, I can carry my everyday purse stuff, a few work files and my 13″ MacBook.

Here’s the Little Swift full:

(L-R:  front view, top view, side view)

What’s inside:  cardigan back in progress, 1 200g yarn cake, wallet, glasses, keys and book (Veronik Avery‘s Knitting 24/7) in the main body of the bag; cell phone, small makeup case, pens in one pocket; knitting tools in the other pocket.   I’ve also tried it with a Tall Yarn Stuff Sack filled with a spindle and roving instead of a knitting project.  That also fits nicely.  Big enough to carry what I need for the day, yet small enough to prevent me from overloading my bag with everything I own.  Perfect.

This is not going to be your big project knitting bag.  If used for knitting alone, you could easily fit a couple of small knitting projects (socks, mittens), a scarf or shawl project or parts of a sweater.  For storage of large projects (full sweater or large shawl), the Swift is a better choice.  I have both and use both.

Other Features:

Let’s take a look at the other features of the Little Swift.

1.  New!  All Swifts and Little Swifts have a reinforced well surrounding the bottom.  

This helps the bag sit upright on its own.  My original Swift tends to fall over unless it’s full.  The new ones don’t!

2.  Like the Swift, it has 2 inside side pockets with clear fronts.  These span the width of the bag and about halfway down the side of the bag.

inside: my knitting toolkit, inside a mini organizer pouch

For comparison, the same pouch inside the Swift’s side pocket:

3.  There are also 4 plastic grommets for hooking your Stuff Sack or keys, etc. to.  Two deep inside the bag:

located just inside the deep "V" on either side of the bag

And two on each of the handle sides of the bag:

Outside the vinyl pocket on one side; inside the vinyl pocket on the other

4.  Each Little Swift comes with a Small Stuff Sack…about an inch shorter than the regular Stuff Sack.  Tom Bihn has gone through many versions of the yarn guide inside the Stuff Sacks.  Mine came with the new version:

It’s a little carabiner!  It’s the best one yet.  Lots of room for the yarn to move around and nowhere for the yarn to get caught.  I’ve tried it with several weights of yarn from very fine silk lace to heavy, aran weight handspun.  No issues with any of them.  I was finding my yarn would occasionally get caught on the snap on the old version:

Snap version is at bottom of photo

As far as I know, both versions will be included in future Stuff Sacks, so you can choose the one that works best.  (OR!  Use both for fair isle/colourwork)

Extras:

Other accessories I’ve found useful, that work well with the Little Swift:

Clear Organizer Pouches

This is my travelling knitting toolkit.  It’s a mini clear organizer pouch containing stitch markers, a tape measure, row counter, 3 cable needles, 3 tapestry needles and a pencil.  I’ve attached my scissors to the pouch with a key strap.

I also have my keys attached to a key strap and a clear organizer wallet:

Like the clear organizer pouches, but with 2 ultrasuede dividers to help keep you organized.

This is not going to be your big project knitting bag.  If used for knitting alone, you could easily fit a couple of small knitting projects (socks, mittens), a scarf or shawl project or parts of a sweater.  For storage of large projects (full sweater or large shawl), the Swift is a better choice.  I have both and use both.

Three Years Later:

I’ve had my original Swift in Plum/Grey cordura for almost 3 years.  I’ve used it almost constantly for those 3 years.  It still looks new.  There is absolutely no change in the colour or the state of the fabric.  Amazing.  There is no sign of wear anywhere.  No broken plastic parts, no tears or dents in the vinyl pockets. There is no sign of wear anywhere.  I’ve never washed it in a washing machine (this would void the Tom Bihn warranty).  But I’ve put it through hell and back.  I’ve spilled food and drink on it, have dropped it in the mud, have been sprayed from head to toe with slush and salt by a passing truck and a bird has pooped on it.  All dirt and stains have been removed with a little soap and water or vinegar and a sponge.    It is the most versatile and adaptable bag I own.  Great for everyday, for work, for a weekend of walking around a fibre festival.  I have yet to meet its equal.  Clearly, I don’t have to.