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Plan A Finishing Party!

Dec 12, 2008

Note from Sandi: My boss is a knitter. (How many folks get to say that?) She also used to own a local yarn shop. She has also worked on Interweave Knits magazine in some capacity since the very beginning--now she is our publisher! (She's also a weaver and a crocheter and a spinner. Does she sleep? I don't think so.) All of this means she has lots of interesting stories to tell, so I keep dropping hints: "Marilyn, any time you'd like to write a post for Knitting Daily..." Last month, she started telling stories about the finishing parties she used to have at her yarn shop, and I thought you would like to hear them, too.

So: Here's Marilyn Murphy, publisher of all things fiber-y here at Interweave.

“Oh I am SO close to finishing _________.” “I’ll just wrap the yarn and the pattern and give ______ that this year with promises for completion next year.” C’mon. You’ve said these words or at least have thought them.

Years ago, I owned a great LYS in Chicago, the Weaving Workshop, and I have many fond memories of the holiday time. It was always a mix of the good and the bad. Good in that the shop was always bustling--last-minute gift purchases, buying yarn to start something over the holidays, desperate customers wanting their projects finished, or people wanting something custom made to gift to a loved one. Bad in that we never had time to make or finish our own gifts because we were the elves.

My store was located on a very busy street with tons of walk by traffic, located near the "L" (that’s Chicago speak for the elevated train). Because our windows caught the attention of hundreds of people daily, we enticed even the non-maker into the store, just in case they wanted to buy a finished item or had someone special on their holiday list. Books, accessories, equipment, sweaters, yarns, classes--all became gifts.

One year, we were so backed up on finishing, had our own gifts to finish, and we had many customers needing some cheering on as well, that we invited them to come for a finishing “all-nighter.” Videos were just becoming popular and we rented movies, had appetizers and pizza, and, of course, wine. We didn’t make it all night but we did work to the wee hours of the morning, but most importantly we had fun, encouraged each other, and completed our projects. I made multiple hats (in those days I could knit one on a size 8 needle in an hour). Kathy worked on her Fair Isle snowflake sweater. (She only worked on this sweater at holiday time. And, Kathy, if you’re reading this, let us know if ever finished it?) Judy seamed together many a sweater. Well, you get the idea.

We had other finishing parties over the years. One year a friend was having an exhibit of her knitwear designs--incredible intarsia sweaters that had a TON of ends. Two days before all the sweaters had to be sent off to the gallery, it was time to call in for reinforcements. She promised us food and wine and our knitting group showed up. We had our blunt needles in hand and, as a group that night, we wove in all the dangly threads and the art wear was ready for blocking.

At Interweave, we are working on finishing all those projects during our weekly craft lunch right now. Craft lunch is scheduled every Wednesday, but this month, it’s all about finishing things in time. I’m knitting a vest for my niece (the first one, the Shadowy Vest, is featured in Holiday Gifts; the pattern is a free download). I have one more to make after this one is complete so three of my nieces/nephews will have matching vests. Amy Clarke Moore, editor of Spin-Off, is knitting the sweater for her dad that she wrote about in her Knitting Daily post The Ten-Year-Sweater. We’re really cheering her on to complete it this year. Liz Gipson, co-host of Knitting Daily TV, is using a knitting bag from Interweave Knits as a flat pattern for her felted woven fabric and is gifting it to her “hm” ( I can’t reveal that). Liz Good, assistant editor of Spin-Off magazine, is knitting a sweater for herself—imagine that. And Rebecca Daniels, assistant editor of Interweave Knits, is quickly knitting a project for PieceWork but by next week she’ll be thick into a project for an upcoming issue of Knits. This Wednesday, we’ll be back crafting together and as the day ticks ever closer, we may have to ramp it up to more than once a week.

So if you need some cheering on, and cheering up, plan your own finishing party. And know that there are many of us encouraging you on as well.

-- Marilyn Murphy
President and Publisher (Fiber Group)
Interweave Press


Finishing Techniques

Need a reminder how to do the mattress stitch? Don't know how to sew in a zipper? Forgotten how to make a pom-pom? Here are some helpful links to finishing techniques to help you through the last stages of your Christmas knitting:

Three-needle bind-off
Mattress stitch seam
Sewing in a zipper
Backstitch seam
Kitchener stitch
Sewn bind-off




Sandi Wiseheart is the founding editor of Knitting Daily.



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jill@3 wrote
on Dec 22, 2008 10:42 PM
Thanks for the wonderful story about the finishing party at The Weaving Workshop. I now live overseas but before moving to New Zealand, lived in Chicago. I remember getting off the "L" and seeing the shop. It was great to be transported back in time after taking up knitting some 20+ years ago.
DebbieR wrote
on Dec 16, 2008 11:39 AM
...a finishing party...craft lunchs...hanging out with like-minded sounds SO WONDERFUL!! I'm jealous! **sigh**
AndriaL wrote
on Dec 13, 2008 10:37 AM
Sandi, whatever happened to your Camisa top? I finished mine, too, but was hoping to see you comments on blocking before blocking mine. Thanks!
TondaS wrote
on Dec 13, 2008 7:53 AM
Sandi please make your scarf a free download so I can make it for Christmas for someones next year! Tonya
TondaS wrote
on Dec 13, 2008 7:52 AM
I too enjoyed it finishing up a sweater today for my youngest granddaughter (hard to believe I am 48 young)then onto sweater #4 for my grandson, then the buying part begins and someone in the next 9 days I have to make a watchmans cap that I can't find a pattern for know of a free one you can recommend my oldest daughter 24 needs one as she has a double ear infection and is getting tubes in her ears come the 29th of Dec HELP I will make the deadline inbetween cooking I always do but ewwwwwwww January I start making Christmas ugh! Tonya in cold white Pittsburgh Pa
Carlyflower wrote
on Dec 13, 2008 6:46 AM
Marilyn, Thanks for the encouragement to finish up! I really enjoyed this article and your writing style.
KatherineH@2 wrote
on Dec 12, 2008 6:02 PM
I used to be a part of the Weaving Workshop/Textile Arts Centre team with Marilyn back in those days and I remember our Friday Night Knit Nights. Lots of people, lots of food, and lots of wine! The thing I remember mostly about those nights is that you always tried to bring "mindless knitting" projects, because invariably you'd end up ripping out all the knitting you had done since you were too busy talking and eating to watch what you were doing!
knitnurs wrote
on Dec 12, 2008 5:53 PM
I would like to know what the pattern is for the shawl that Amy Clark Moore is wearing in the above article. Thank you!
prlgrl wrote
on Dec 12, 2008 5:41 PM
I used to live in Chicago, not far from The Weaving Workshop. I loved to go in there and touch the yarns and listen to the conversations about everyone's projects. It was the first LYS that I went in that made me feel comfortable (even though I was a novice at the time) It was a great place to hang out. Everyone there was so helpful.
bkaden wrote
on Dec 12, 2008 5:25 PM
Marilyn Mrphy mentioned, "Kathy worked on her Fair Isle snowflake sweater." Years ago, early 1960's I think, I knit a Fair Isle sweater. I gave away the sweater and lost the pattern. I'd love to knit it again. Does Kathy still have the pattern or know where I could find it? Does anyone know about a Fair Isle sweater pattern circa early 1960's? Thanks and happy knitting, Barb Kaden, Bloomington, IN
NinaT wrote
on Dec 12, 2008 3:26 PM
A finishing party sounds like a fun idea! Thanks for the suggestion.
CynthiaG wrote
on Dec 12, 2008 2:15 PM
I can't seem to find the how-to videos on the knitting daily site. I can view them when they come in a daily e-mail, but I don't like keeping the e-mail in my inbox and don't always need the reference immediately. How can I find it later when I need it? (I apologize if I'm being dense!)
JanL wrote
on Dec 12, 2008 11:04 AM
Too bad the free pattern library is a pain in the neck to search. I've asked several times for someone to please make it easy like the store, but apparently it's not going to happen. I usually end up looking elsewhere or on Ravelry. ~shrug~