Montreal, and knitting progress

Knitting away over here; I finished one project for a pattern I’ll be re-releasing soon, but I want to tweak it to add an additional size, so one more knit coming up. The smaller size was perfect airplane knitting.

snowy woods cowl 2

This is an update of the Snowy Woods cowl, which was released last winter as an exclusive for one of WoolGirl’s club kits.

snowy woods detail

So far I’ve changed this up with a fatter, smooshier yarn which means it can be knit with fewer repeats and be closer to the neck, and I also want to make a version that will double loop around the neck. The current yarn is Knitted Wit’s Superwash Merino Aran, a heavy worsted/light Aran bouncy round fun to knit delight. More on this soon.

Other yarn was delivered while I was on vacation, and I was knitting away madly on it, until I looked closely and said to myself, “clown barf.” It’s a fabulous variegated paired with a semi-solid, but the stitch pattern I chose isn’t bringing out the best in the variegated, so it’s back to the drawing board on that one. No worries; I have time and determination.

Vacation: We went to Montreal for six days, and had a blast! It’s almost like going to Europe, very charming, bilingual, and much closer. We stayed in the old part of Montreal, and it was lovely. Our hotel had this bronze outside, which is a smaller version of the one we know and love in DH’s home town of Clayton, Missouri. We felt right at home.

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Our hotel was near the Basilica of Notre Dame. The square in front of it always has something fun going on. There’s music at noon.

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We saw a gorgeous bridal party…

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And at night, Notre Dame’s windows glow blue.

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We happened to be there during Just for Laughs, a comedy festival. We also enjoyed the Festival des Nuits Afrique. Montreal has a short summer, and they seem to make the most of it! So many people walking around, enjoying the sunshine and the warm evenings.

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I don’t know if this police officer lost a bet, or if this is just part of his summer wardrobe.

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This troupe was offering mariages gratuits, free weddings. No one took them up on it.

I saw a rendition of a very Canadian song, Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, in a way I’d never heard it before. Sorry the sound isn’t very good; half the speakers weren’t working ’til later in the song. But I like the beat of this, in four instead of three.

There was a lot of good food, and wine.

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(Breakfast of champions. Or champignons.)

My food mission was to check out poutines. This one was from Au Pied du Cochon’s food truck at the festival. Poutine avec foie gras.

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And we had to try the poutine at McDonald’s, because, photo op. It was underwhelming, as far as poutine goes.

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But I learned that chicken McNuggets are Poulet McCroquettes, which made me laugh out loud. Really, doesn’t everything sound better in French?

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Whew! That was a big catch up. Back to my knitting. No more clown barf!

Spinners, weigh in! #tourdefleece

So, spinners, do you have a yarn goal in your head before you start spinning? The reason I ask:

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This is my first real yarn. I’ve played with the spindle before, but this is 4 ounces of fiber, turned into about 75 yards of single ply. I spun this on my Jenkins Turkish spindle.

It appears that I have made two different yarns here. When I started, I was trying to make a heftier single than my default accidental laceweight. Some of this yarn does that; it’s kind of like Malabrigo Worsted in heft and twist.

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The later yarn from this spinning is thinner and twistier, because I was afraid my fat singles were underspun. This thinner yarn would be great plied because some of that twist would reverse in the plying, right?

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This was all a grand experiment. But it’s like I have two different yarns in the same skein. And the first fatter singles weren’t underspun after all. The twist is lovely after washing and drying.

I also played with the mystery fiber that was at my house (leftover from a kids’ felting experiment). I used my Kundert top whorl spindle because it can handle a much bigger cop. The single was twisty, and then I wound a two-strand plying ball with my ball winder so I could ply it on the spindle. It’s pretty, yes? It’s only about 16 yards, 2 ply worsted to Aran weight. But pretty consistent! I like the barberpole look in the skein, but I’m not sure I’d like it knit up.

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I think all of this means that I need to decide what I want this BFL from Knitted Wit to be, before I start spinning it.

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I think because it has so many colors and I don’t want barberpole, I should aim for either a fat single ply, or a skinny yarn I can chain ply to preserve the color runs. I’m not sure which one I’m more likely to be able to do successfully.

This is as much fun as planning a knitting project. Everything is possible, until you start and then doors start to close…

Spinners, help me out. Am I on the right track?

Astoria StitchFest 2014

Do you love knitting and/or crocheting? Do you love the Oregon Coast? Here’s a winning combo for you: Astoria StitchFest. This is a brand new event October 10-12 in Astoria, Oregon. I’ll be teaching there, along with Sivia Harding, Mary Scott Huff, and Laurinda Reddig.

I’m teaching Cast On/Bind Off, Blocking, Entrelac, and a new class, Slip Stitch Designing. I’m especially stoked about sharing the magic of slip stitch knitting, which results in colorful patterning, but only one color is worked per row. Here’s an example of a slip stitch cowl I designed.

starwood detail

I hope you’ll come join us in Astoria this fall. More details about the classes, the StitchFeast dinner on Friday, and places to stay in Astoria are on the website.

New pattern: Beanstalk Scarf and Mitts

Beanstalk is live! Cathy Woodcock at Lantern Moon gave me a skein of Indochine to play with last February. I wanted to design something that made the most of this single skein of luscious yarn. That something turned out to be a skinny scarf.

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I love the way the stitch pattern blocks out in silk. But a scarf alone didn’t seem to be enough, so I designed some coordinating mitts. Just one more skein!

beanstalk set

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The thumb gusset grows out of one of my favorite leaf motifs, the same one that I used in my Garland shawl.

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This photo is from Sarah Peery, who test knit this set for me.

More information about this pattern is on the Beanstalk pattern page, and on the Ravelry page.

To celebrate the launch of this pattern, I’m offering it for half off through July 22. Use the coupon code BEANSTALK when you check out; here’s the link to purchase through Ravelry (you don’t have to be a member). Go forth and knit!

(Anyone interested in a KAL?)

Tour de Fleece?

Lots of stuff in the works: Design project at test knitter and tech editor (mmmmm, Indochine), design project that’s in time out after two tries, design project that’s just fun fabric to knit, design idea that wants a drapey yarn that’s being dyed up (hello, Knitted Wit Shine!), design proposal that’s cooking in my head, and an upcoming pattern re-release that needs a sample and some math in an alternate yarn. So since I don’t have anything to show you from that list at this moment, what should I show you?

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Spinning. Of course.

It’s Tour de France season, and that mean’s it’s also Tour de Fleece. I don’t really spin, but all the pretty pictures in my Facebook and Instagram feeds got me inspired. I have a couple spindles, but I was frustrated that my singles get skinnier and skinnier as I spin. My aim for TdF is just to play with techniques and try to get fatter yarn.

I’m working with my lovely Jenkins Turkish spindle; I can control the speed more easily than with my Kundert top whorl spindle, which is really fast. My yarn looks better so far, but far from perfect.

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I chain plied the previous skinny single and a new fatter single. (I think it’s merino and silk. Label is long gone.) One feels like string, and the other feels like yarn. Happier with the new stuff! But a long way to go before I get any consistency.

I saw Lorajean (Knitted Wit) this morning and picked up yarn for the sample I need to knit up, and she sent me home with this:

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Corriedale pencil roving. So far, it’s easier to spin with (longer staple? already uniform width?); I’m drafting it it just a little bit, and experimenting between park and draft and draft as I spin. It’s all research, right?

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I like what I’m getting so far. I don’t know if I’ll keep it as a single or chain ply it. I’ll figure that out later.

If you’re wondering why I chain ply instead of two ply, it’s because I don’t have a lazy kate (although I could jerry-rig one; I have before), and also because chain plying keeps the space dyed colors intact instead of mixing them. My sense of order is pleased…

Are you doing Tour de Fleece? Any hints for me and my quest for fatter singles?

Road trip with the Traveling Ewe

It was a fiber-full weekend! On Saturday I went on The Traveling Ewe‘s inaugural road trip. JJ Foster is putting together fiber-related tours, and this one was grand.

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How awesome that the license plate on our bus said “YARN”? Too funny. Our trip took us out of rainy Portland to the drier side of the Cascades. We shopped at Knot Another Hat in Hood River, a very lovely store with a view of the Columbia River.

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We had lunch at Celilo. I’m thinking these hefty picks through my sandwich would make very cute little knitting needles.

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From there we hopped back on the bus and visited Cascade Alpacas of Oregon, which has a cute little yarn shop and even cuter alpacas. Thomas demonstrated spinning and weaving for us.

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And Connie told us about raising alpacas.
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Can you get more bucolic than this?

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Snack time!

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This cria (baby alpaca) is 2 days old.

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And this cria is 3 hours old. Check out the wobbly walk!

Our last stop was at Mt. Hood Winery. We sampled some wines, and had show and tell with the day’s purchases. (Angela wins. She did some major shopping!)

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Melissa is going through a blue-green knitting phase. All her yarn seems to match.

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Mt. Hood made a valiant effort to peek through the clouds. All in all, it was a fun day! JJ Foster has a knack for planning. We had just enough time at all the places we visited, and the bus was a great venue for chatting with other knitters. I’d do this again! You can, too. The next trip is August 16, and will visit Corvallis and Eugene. More details here. Bring knitting you can multi-task with, because you’ll be chatting and laughing the whole time.

Sunday’s fiber fun? Open studio at Knitted Wit; Lorajean is doing this on the second Saturday and fourth Sunday of each month. Stop by and craft, and shop, too. This weekend Lorajean was getting ready for Tour de Fleece. Me? I just knit. Oh, and we are coming up with a very cool color for a pattern I’m releasing soon. I edited and formatted two patterns this weekend. Lots of fun things in the works; I’m looking forward to showing them all to you. Soon!

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Fiber appreciation starts early!

How was your weekend?

She Who Watches

Last week, I did a quick camping overnight at Washington’s Maryhill State Park. It’s about 2 hours from home, on the other side of the Cascade Mountains. I drove through that area a couple months ago; you may remember my fascination with wind turbines.

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Still fascinated.

Here’s the daylight view, with knitting.

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I met up with my friend Vickie so we could visit Tsagaglalal, She Who Watches.

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She’s a Native American petroglyph that was etched and painted into the rock perhaps 250 to 300 years ago. She Who Watches is located in what is now Columbia Hills State Park in Washington, and is only viewable through a guided walk with the park.

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Along the way, one can also see other pictographs (rock paintings, as opposed to etchings or carvings).

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Salmon Shaman

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She Who Watches is at the end of this guided walk. Very cool! There are also some petroglyphs that have been relocated to this park from Petroglyph Canyon, which was flooded when the Dalles Dam was built.

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You can read more about these petroglyphs and pictographs here.

The knitting? It’s the second knitting of the Lantern Moon Indochine, this time in the color Viridian. This piece is done and blocking. On to the companion piece! All will be revealed, soon.

In other news, the blueberries are early this year! Ripe and ready for picking. I made my first cobbler of the season from my favorite recipe that I’ve been using since 1986. You can find the recipe here.

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It was deiicious, as usual. We had it a la mode, in the back yard, as a belated Father’s Day celebration.

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What did you knit this weekend? Did you go to Black Sheep Gathering? I’ve never been, but some day…

Road trip knitting

I’ve been on several road trips lately, but I’ve been the driver on all of them. I’m a great multi-tasker (knitting while reading or watching TV), but I draw the line at knitting and driving. Fortunately, there’s a new way to road trip. JJ Foster, local knitter/instructor/former LYS owner/hospitality professional has come up with a fun concept: The Traveling Ewe.

The Traveling Ewe is a new tour business focusing on knitters, crocheters and spinners. The Traveling Ewe will offer a new fiber-focused day trip every other month, starting with the Columbia Gorge Adventure on June 28th. Fiberistas will board a swanky luxury coach and head to Hood River for an inspiring day of crafting, eating and shopping. There will be time at Knot Another Hat, lunch at Celilio, a trip to Foothill Fibers Alpaca Farm and Store and, to end the day, a glass of wine on the sunny patio at Mt. Hood Winery . Tickets for this event are available at the Traveling Ewe website.

This sounds like a perfect field trip for me, and no yellow schoolbus! I’m planning to go. Come join the fun!

Mt Hood at Timberline

The sight of Mount Hood still thrills me every time, even though I grew up in Portland. This is an old picture out the back window at Timberline Lodge. The last time I drove out I-84, I kept looking in my mirrors for a view of the mountain. It will be much safer snapping a picture when I’m not the driver!

Just enough yarn

It’s so satisfying to have just enough yarn…

just enough indochine

There was just enough in this ball of Lantern Moon Indochine to finish my project, leaving only 18 inches to spare. Glad I didn’t have to rip out that last repeat. I’ll show you what I made, but first I have an idea to coordinate with it. Soon!

A little more beachiness before moving on. What’s got the seagulls all in a twitter on top of Haystack Rock? Oh, just a couple of eagles looking for lunch…

Just before this, all the common murres took off in a big cloud, fleeing the rock. Apparently they’re the first course for lunch because they’re easy pickings. The gulls eventually ran the eagles off, but it took a while.

I finally found a good clump of starfish; I was getting a little worried that they weren’t as much in evidence as they were last August.

starfish clump at haystack rock

There’s an epidemic of starfish wasting disease on the west coast this year, and it’s made its way to Oregon. I hope the starfish don’t all die out. The ones I saw looked healthy.

One more sunset!

haystack rock sunset gulls

Haystack Rock and Needles at sunset

cannon beach sunset

Back to my knitting, again! The pink Bling is back on the needles, round 2.

backyard knitting

Lantern Moon Indochine yarn…and the coast

I forgot that I have a little ball of Indochine, Lantern Moon’s 100% silk sport weight yarn. Cathy gave it to me when I was on my way up to Madrona in February. I meant to use it in class, but didn’t, and then it got tucked away when I got home. This is a sample color; I don’t see it on their website now.

I brought it to the coast to play with. It’s lovely and luminous; it catches the light and shines it right back at you.

Indochine

My impression so far: This is a gorgeous yarn. It’s 100% silk. There are 12 individual strands, three groups of four. Even with all those strands, it’s not splitty to work with at all, and knits like a dream on a US size 5 (3.75 mm) needle. I tried it first on a 7 hoping for a loose lace, but the stitch definition is much better on a 5. So far, I love it. It comes in 50g/134 yard skeins; Lantern Moon shows it on their website for $19.50/skein. A bit spendy, but oh, so lovely! I’m trying to make a little one skein project out of it; I sure wish I’d brought my yarn scale with me. I guess if there’s not enough, I’ll just have to frog it and have the pleasure of knitting up this yarn again in another incarnation. But for now, I’m counting on the magic of blocking…

I brought four design projects to play with, and I’ve charted three, but this one is the one that has captured my attention. Doesn’t everyone take their knitting on vacation? It’s not Paris, but Cannon Beach is pretty sweet this time of year. I didn’t bring a kite; this is the next best thing.

indochine kite

I found these tiny sand dollars on the beach; that’s my anniversary ring next to them for scale.

sand dollars

I decided to chase the sunset last night, but it wasn’t an original idea.

haystack rock sunset chasers

It was worth it though. I used my Lumix GF6 for this next picture. The rest of the pictures are iPhone5, except the sand dollars, which was iPad. Different toys, um, tools, for different reasons.

sunset haystack rock

And I took a panorama shot with my phone, which turned out nicely, too.

haystack rock sunset pano

Back to my knitting!