"tough on pills, easy on fabric" giveaway

Are your knits plagued by pills?  I know the answer is yes.  If you are a hand knitter, then you cannot avoid pills.  All knitted fabric, machine knit or hand knit, will pill at some point, usually only after a few wears.  Fabric pilling is the formation of small, fuzzy balls on the surface of a fabric and is in no way an indication that you have a cheap yarn or garment.   Even the most expensive yarns and fabric can pill.  Certain types of fibers are more prone to fabric pilling than others, but pilling and fuzzing is a normal part of wear and tear. Short or loose fibers on the surface of the knitted garment tend to tangle together and form a tuft or pill. Fuzzier fabrics, like angora, are particularly prone to fabric pilling, since they are characterized by plentiful, loose fibers. The slight abrasion of simply wearing a garment will cause the looser fibers to join together.  You'll find pilling mostly on cuffs and under arms and the sides of your sweater.  

The good news it that pilling will slow down after a time as soon there are fewer loose fibers to pill up.  But in the meantime, we all need an awesome de-piller, and I've found it.  I've been using the Gleener for several years.  While I've owned many de-pillers and de-fuzzers over the years, the Gleener is by far the easiest and the best.  I got my Gleener at Bed Bath and Beyond but they are available at many drug stores and sell for about $20, and well worth the price.  It comes with a lint/hair brush on one end, and at the other end is a de-piller with three interchangeable edges, from light to heavy duty depending on your type of fabric.  The edges are easy to pop on and off, and truly, works like a charm on natural and synthetic fibers.  My entire sweater was filled with tufted pills and it took me less than 3 minutes to brush it back to it's original beauty. For the record, I have used this on even my most delicate knits such as my Kidsilk Haze sweaters and my Angora Haze sweaters.  The tool is thorough, but gentle and every knitter needs one.

I wrote to Gleener and told them how much I loved their product and knew my readers would like it too and asked them to send me one as a giveaway.  Sure, I know that sounds cheeky, but they kindly sent me three!  To enter the giveaway, please be a follower of Knitionary and leave a comment below.  For a second chance, leave a comment on the Knitionary Facebook page under the Gleener picture.  This is open to North American readers only.  I've got 3 to give away and I'll keep this open for a few days.  Good luck! Oh, and make sure I know how to get a hold of you.  The best way is your Rav ID or leave your email.  Thanks!


We can't avoid pills, but we can fight him!

After:  Tough on pills, easy on fabric.

Fuzz and pills are gone from my pretty sweater!
You can throw out the useless sweater stones and those hopeless shavers, the Gleener is the best!

Thank you to the kind folks at Gleener
The Gleener at Bed, Bath and Beyond
The Gleener at The Grommet
To enter the giveaway, leave a comment below.
If you are reading this post from an email, go to this link to leave a comment.
For a second chance to win, leave a comment at the Knitionary FB page.

I just found out there are copy-cat "Gleeners" that are cheap and break easily.
When shopping, make sure you get the real thing.  I've used mine for 2 years.


this morning

I came home late Sunday night and almost the first words from my husband's mouth were, "You won't believe what the roses have done while you were away!"  Me: "But I've only been gone since Friday!"  

The next morning I walked around and he was right.  Even with our drought, there were thousands of rose buds that seemed to appear overnight, quite a few blooms even, and there were peonies!  Peonies, faithful every year, still manage to surprise me; so tutu frilly and fancy pink and impossibly gorgeous!

The garden is all shades of green with fat buds on every bush and orange blossom fragrance, but you can't help but notice the thirsty soil.  We're sad that this year will not be a gardening year for us.  This year will be about keeping what we have alive and not planting much in the way of annuals or vegetables.  My greenhouse this time of year would normally be filled with seedlings, but with the drought and the almost certain water restrictions, it's foolish to even think about that sort of thing.

In the meantime, it seems that the drought can't take away the roses this spring.  It's going to be a doozy of a rose season.

Our dwarf tulip magnolia.  The blooms are almost finished when the leaves appear.

The pear tree is flowering.


Nasturtiums have popped up in the garlic pot.


Baby Surprises

Just recently I made 3 Baby Surprise Jackets in rapid succession.  I took a class to make my first, only because I am that knitter who, before commencing knitting a new pattern, reads through it to get a basic understanding of the construction.  I found out that this does not work for every pattern.  For those of you familiar with the BSJ, you'll know that true comprehension is impossible until after you have knit it.  It is knit in one piece, but knit like no other one-piece ever.  Reading the instructions for a clear understanding of the construction will, I think, not happen for anyone.   So don't be like me and assume you have to understand this before starting; read on and you'll see why.

Elizabeth Zimmerman's Baby Surprise Jacket has been in print in several different publications for the last 50 years.  She writes the pattern more as a folksy letter to her knitting buddies.  You can read them if you like, and I know many people have been able to knit the BSJ from them, but not me.  For those of us just making our first BSJ, thank heavens there's an updated pattern available.  (Certainly, after you've knit one, go back and read her original directions for fun; her writing style is charming.) But, if you are serious about knitting one of these, head over to Schoolhouse Press and purchase the booklet that Elizabeth's daughter has re-written and where you'll be guided row by row.  They (and I) recommend knitting the baby size first; you'll know why after you've knit your first one.  Then, after you've knit your beautiful baby jacket, sit back and marvel at the sheer genius of Elizabeth Zimmerman and the magic of how her mind works. As our beloved knitting Einstein, she was the one who also gave us the knitted i-cord, the i-cord bind off, the pi shawl, the sewn cast off, and was an early advocate of knitting in the round on circular needles, top down knitting and steeking.  As a pioneer knitter/writer, she encouraged (and still encourages) young and old knitters alike, much like Julia Child encouraged young brides in the 60s and 70s to fearlessly master a souffle.

I took a class, and as competent as my teacher was, I still walked away scratching my head.  An hour later at home I plunged forward.  I was not going to let not understanding get in my way.  And here's what I found out: one-third the way though it will all begin to make sense.  You'll say, AHA!  Then, half-way though it will begin to not make sense again, (the flap part).  Do not get discouraged, just keep knitting and do exactly what the pattern says.  Don't ask questions, don't second guess, just do it.  Suddenly, when you are 9/10ths through, it will dawn on you that you have got it right.  You'll be shocked I imagine.  I was.  You'll soon bind off, sew up the shoulder seams and put on the buttons, and then here is where you'll marvel at the magical mind of EZ.  Enjoy, and then get ready to make your second!

For each of my BSJs, I cast on 160 stitches.
The size changes will happen with your gauge.
FYI, the pattern below has children's and adult sizes as well.

For baby clothes, always use machine washable and dryable yarn.

The first one is knit with Rowan's Pure Wool Worsted
in Umber, Moonstone and Hazel.  Worsted weight makes size 12 mos.
This has a purl bind off all around, and a picked up 2-stitch i-cord bind off at the neck.
Rav link here.

The second one is knit in Rowan's Pure Wool DK in Black
and one skein of Tanis Fiber Arts Yellow Label DK in Copper Penny.
DK weight yarn makes a 6-9 mos. size.
This one has a 3 stitch i-cord bind off all around.
Rav link here.

The last one uses one skein of self striping Zitron Unisono.
Fingering weight makes a newborn size.
This one also has a 3 stitch i-cord bind off all around.
Rav link here.

After reading the comments here and on my FB page, I want to add that the only
difficult BSJ will be your first one.  I promise.  It's hard to do something that makes no sense,
but go to a quiet corner and just stick it out.  You'll be glad you did.

The Schoolhouse Press web site needs a serious revamping/update, FYI.
Get the pattern that looks like the one below.
If you use this pattern, I doubt you'll need a class or the DVD
but if you do, dive into a class or get the DVD.
I've seen the DVD at my library, and going to go there today and see if I can check it out.
Get the pattern here and scroll down, it's there.
 The pattern also has the sizing for children and adults.

The last BSJ I  knit used just one skein of self striping yarn, and it, being my third BSJ, made a great travel knit.  Still, I needed a true, mindless travel knit and for the best project for that, head again to EZ and knit her pi shawl.  This is one I recently started with Handmaiden Casbah in fingering weight.  I won't work on this at home, but keep it strictly as a travel knit with no hurry and no deadline to finish.  I've heard some people say they love to knit pi shawls but don't know how to wear them.  It's a big circle which I fold in half, then wrap and wrap around my neck and shoulders.  It looks beautiful and it's warm.  It also makes a great afghan!

This was started while on a quick weekend getaway with my daughter at the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa.  Wow, what a place!

We were there during the quick 3 week period when Ojai Pixie tangerines are in season.
We attended a cooking demonstration and had a wonderful dinner.


Take me out to the ballgame and I'll knit!

OK, so I'm a knitter, but I'm also a baseball fan.  Baseball season is coming up and for us knitters, it means hours of blissful baseball watchin' knittin'.  And yes, I do take my knitting to AT&T Park, always!

I've been wanting to make a team scarf for a few years now, and finally got my act together pre season with my pattern and yarn ready! Mother and I are going to make scarves using San Francisco Giants baseball team colors, orange and black, with white and grey thrown in for good measure, knitting a stripe for each game played.  This would work for any team, just pick 4 colors, one for home wins, one for home losses, one for away wins, one for away losses. You knit a stripe for each game, and by the end of the season, you'll have a randomly striped scarf that shows the season.  JOIN US!  Our scarves will be ready to wear post-season, which for the Giants, ahem, is usually not until mid October!  (We have won three World Series in the last 5 years which means the season is lengthened through October.)  With 162 games (not counting post season games, wink wink).  I'd love you to join us.  Choose the colors closest to your team colors and start on opening day.  I don't care what team you root for, even Dodger's fans can join this knitalong!  I'd be so happy if you did, just show your team spirit!

Go to this link for the Ravelry Giants Group.  There's already a few people signing up this year.  I'll bet your team has a Rav group too.  If you are on Facebook, there are quite a few gamer babes that will be knitting this.  It's a closed group and only for Giants fans, and you'll have to ask to join, but do ask.  The mod gets back to you the same day.  It's a fun and friendly group:  Gamer Babes on Facebook.

Here's the link for the free pattern, and these words from the designer about her pattern:

A conceptual knitting design for baseball fans. (It can work for other sports, too!)

Knit your team’s season into an infinity scarf to wear for the postseason! Using whatever yarn and needles you prefer, in your team’s colors, you’ll make an infinity scarf that reflects your team’s wins and losses at home and on the road.

Free worksheet includes a place for you to fill in your color key (coded to wins, losses, home games, away games) and a chart for determining your cast-on and estimated length. This is a completely customizable concept, and I look forward to seeing your interpretation.

Play ball!

I've chosen Rowan's Wool/Cotton in DK weight and mother is using All Season's Cotton which is a light aran weight.  Both yarns are easy to knit and will be soft around the neck and are machine washable. We're starting out with one skein each and may have to purchase another one or two as the season progresses, we'll see.

On the left, mother is using Rowan All Season's Cotton:
Home win, Burnt Orange 262
Away win, Inky 497
Home loss,  Organic 178
Home loss, Turf 232

On the right I'll be using Rowan Wool Cotton DK:
Home win, Cafe 985
Away win, Inky 908
Home loss, Antique 900
Away loss,  Misty 903

Two more great choices would be Rowan's Softknit Cotton in Burnt Orange 577,  White 588, Noir 589 and Silver 586 or Handknit Cotton in Florence 350, Black 252, Ecru 251 or Bleached 263 and Slate 347.   I've knit with the above four yarns and they are all high quality, soft, and easy to knit yarn.  If your local yarn store doesn't carry them, check out the internet.  For Giant's fans in the bay area, Rowan stockists are Uncommon Threads in Los Altos, Imagiknit in San Francisco and Jimmy Beans in Reno has an awesome online shopping site.

For Wool/Cotton DK weight I am using size 5 needles and casting on 28ish stitches and knitting garter stitch (knit each stitch) or maybe the linen stitch.  For the heavier All Season's Cotton mother will use size 9 needle and cast on 20. 
A reader wanted to see an example, so here's one in Giant's colors I pulled from Rav.  It's just random stripes denoting your team's wins and losses, so they all look different, but pretty! This one is knit in the round in stockinette as a cowl.  Both my mom and I are going to knit scarves, not cowls.  Mom will knit the simplest garter stitch, which is knit each stitch and it will be beautiful.  I am going to do the linen stitch just because I want to give that a try.  The pattern gives a good explanation of how to start.

If you are not a Giants fan, you are released from this page, you'll be bored with the rest of this!  But if you are a Giants fan, read on!  My son and I went to spring training in Scottsdale last week and saw two games at Scottsdale Stadium.  We had a blast and I am planning on doing it every year.  We got to see Matt Cain pitch two innings, his first time in over a year so it was nice to see him back.  Will Clark signed my hat, he was so funny and friendly with the fans.  Hunter Stickland, seriously handsome, came out and signed a lot and also quite a few of the minor leaguers who were invited to spring training came out to sign too.  They were all so polite and friendly, if not a little shy.  After Sunday's game, at a nearby park the Giants hosted a "hit with the big leaguers" day for little leaguers.  Joe Panik and Andrew Susac were the stars and interacted so well with the kids.  Honestly, these young men are just so polite and humble, just gotta love those Giants, they know how to pick 'em.  And good looking.  Holy cow.  When Joe Panik smiled, which was often, all the ladies just about fell over.

If you are planning on going, I recommend staying at The Saguaro.  It was great, just a quick cab ride from the airport.  Once there, you just walk to the ballpark, it's a block away, and in the evening, old town is just steps away.  It was a perfect trip.

We're used to ATT Park being sold out, but even the spring training games are completely sold out!  Crazy, but it's still a small enough park to feel friendly and homey.  They have a packed lawn seating too.

Joe Panik

Will the Thrill