Lobelia sneak peek, knit nite

Here’s a sneak peak at Lobelia. I think the lace pattern looks like little lobelia blossoms.

lobelia lace

This is 150g of Thrilling by KnitCircus, Starry Night colorway. The initial write-up is done, but you’ll have to wait a little longer for the pattern. I’m knitting up a version for a 100g/400 yard skein. Because, options.

KnitCircus Come What May

This yarn is KnitCircus Greatest of Ease, a super wash merino/nylon blend. Colorway is Come What May; I received it as part of my Kickstarter package supporting Jaala’s new studio. Gorgeous!

In other news, we had knit nite on Wednesday, and we actually knit! There are two grandbabies on the way, so there was some blanket knitting going on. I guess zigzag/chevrons are in!

knit zigzag

I made my new favorite quinoa salad. You can pretty much throw all your favorite things into quinoa, dress it a bit, and it’s delicious.

quinoa salad

Summer Quinoa Salad

! cup quinoa
1 cup frozen shelled edamame
1 avocado, diced
1/2 lb grape tomatoes, various, cut into halves
1 15 oz can garbanzo beans, rinsed & drained
1/2 cucumber, cut into bite sized pieces
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

dressing
4 T fresh squeezed orange juice
4 T olive oil
4 T apple cider vinegar
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp sugar or honey
1/4 tsp salt
liberal grind of black pepper

Rinse quinoa. Put in pot with 2 C water. Bring to boil, cover & simmer 20 minutes until water is absorbed and quinoa is tender. Fluff with fork and transfer to large bowl to cool.

Cook edamame according to package directions. Cool.

Assemble all dressing ingredients and shake in a jar.

When quinoa and edamame are cool, combine with all other salad ingredients. Add dressing to taste. Serve at room temperature. Serves 6-8, depending on how hungry you are…

Do you have a knitting group? We don’t meet as regularly as we used to, but it’s always a pleasure to get together to share food and knitting!

Portland outdoors, knitting, Tigard Knitting Guild

It’s been a warm dry summer here, which makes getting outdoors a pleasure. Yesterday we climbed a volcano. Within the city limits! Mt. Tabor is an extinct (or maybe just dormant?) volcanic cinder cone, with an elevation of 636 feet. We wanted a short, spur of the moment hike close to home, since we were getting a late (noon) start. This was perfect.

Mt Tabor reservoir

You know most of my hikes involve waterfalls. This will have to do. This is one of the three open air reservoirs on Mt. Tabor, where part of the city’s water supply is held.

Mt Tabor view of Tillikum Crossing

There’s a nice view to the west toward downtown, looking out at Portland’s newest bridge, Tillikum Crossing.

tillikum crossing reflection

DH and I saw that bridge the other day, when I took him on my favorite bridge walk. The reflection of the bridge, and him, on the Portland Opera building was pretty cool.

fire station boat ramp pdx

This was the fifth time I’ve done this walk this summer, and I just noticed the cool sculpture on the fire station. See the concentric circles? They come into focus as you walk eastward on the Hawthorne Bridge.

If you’re looking for more fun free things to do around Portland, the Oregonian just ran a feature today. I’m feeling pretty savvy, because I was already doing some of those things!

Other than that, I’m knitting, knitting, knitting. I took a little detour from my gradient project to work with this lovely yarn from Knitted Wit. There’s a deadline for this design project, so it has moved up to the front burner.

knitted wit sprinkle dye

I’m speaking at the Tigard Knitting Guild tonight, talking about blocking. You know I love blocking! Click the link for details. You can visit the guild twice before joining, so if you’re local, come on by.

Onward!

Aloha shawlette class: modified triangle shawls

I’m teaching a class at Twisted in Portland on the next two Tuesday evenings, August 18 and 25. You’re invited!

Aloha Shawl

My Aloha shawl and shawlette are the centerpiece of this class, so we’ll talk about basic lace stitches, the very fun shellflower lei stitch, and knit on edgings.

Aloha details

But the class isn’t just a how-to for this particular shawl. We’ll also talk about triangle shawl shaping, with both traditional and extended wingspans, and how to add a center panel to a regular triangle shawl.

aloha kal day 1

Interested? Contact Twisted to sign up. I’d love to see you there in our new expanded classroom space across the street!

Gradient yarn knitting progress

I’m knitting along on my current design project with Knit Circus gradient yarn, and I wanted to show you my progress.

Knit Circus Thrilling

See how the yarn is changing into the next shade of blue? I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next, and when.

Hiya Hiya Interchangeable Needles review

I bought some new tools when I was at TNNA last May. These are Hiya Hiya Interchangeable Needles, in the small sizes, regular tip stainless.

Hiya Hiya 1

Inside this pretty case are four inch needle tips sizes US 2 through 8.

Hiya Hiya interchangeable

In the zippered pocket on the back of the case are cords to make interchangeable needles in 16, 24, 32, and 40 inch lengths, as well as rubber grips for tightening the tips to the cords.

back pocket

I’m using size 4 tips to make a 32 inch needle. This is just right for my current design project with this gorgeous Knit Circus gradient yarn. So far, they are knitting just as smoothly and nicely as my fixed length Hiya Hiya stainless steel needles. I like Hiya Hiya needles for the smooth join between the needle and the cable when I’m working with lots of yarn overs. The yarn overs glide right up and over the join.

Hiya Hiya interchangeable

These needle tips are 4 inches long. I think they’re too long for a 16 inch needle, because it’s hard to comfortably bring them around into a circle with long tips. But I like these tips just fine for the other needle lengths, and I wouldn’t like them to be shorter. The needles are also offered in a 5 inch tip, but that’s too long for me.

I kind of wish I had chosen the sharp tips option, but these are sharp enough. I’m enjoying my project so far.

Do you use interchangeable needles? What do you like?

Gradient yarn

Have you fallen down the gradient yarn rabbit hole? I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!

Knit Circus yarn

This is 150 grams of gradient heaven from Knit Circus Yarns. The yarn is called Thrilling, 80/20 Superwash Merino/Tussah Silk, colorway Starry Night. 575 yards is going to make a shawl that I can really wrap up in! The long continuous color change is going to work perfectly with the design I’ve plotted out.

The other gradient that I’ve knit with recently is from Black Trillium Fibres. Rather than a continuous shading, it’s in five even mini-skeins.

Black Trillium Lilt

The mini-skein put-up was perfect for the design I was working on, where the color changes are distinct and need a start and end point.

Have you knit with gradient yarns? Do you plan your gradient projects based on the type of gradient, or do you choose your gradient based on the project? Or do you just wing it, and apply glorious gradients to whatever you’re knitting? Inquiring minds wanna know!

PS: I had a math error on my last post: It was 40,000 stitches, not 20,000! I was thinking in terms of the right side row patterning, rather than both right and wrong sides. No wonder it went on and on and on! But definitely worth the effort. So pretty!

20k stitches later…

Edit: it’s 40K, not 20K. I was thinking about the 16 row repeat, but it’s 32 rows. Math! But it’s bound off and done. Ends woven in; here are the orts:

done

It’s just the way I imagined it. I love it when that happens. I’ll show you next spring…

20k is a lot of stitches! It’s fairly regular knitting, so this was a good project to read a book by. Reading does slow my knitting down a bit, but it’s worth it to entertain both my fingers and my mind. I just read Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. It was a pretty good read, the stories of two women, one current day and one the personal history of an orphan in the 1920’s/1930’s. The current day portions feel like a YA novel, and the older portions were a fascinating look into a chapter of history that was new to me. But the ending of the book seemed like it was thrown together; after so much detail it seemed like there was a sudden push of the fast forward button. Still, a good read.

While not knitting, I’ve revisited what is now my favorite Portland walk. It’s 2.7 miles around the Willamette River waterfront, along the Vera Katz Eastside Esplanade and Waterfront Park on the west side. I walked it with a friend on Thursday morning and was captivated by shadows under the Hawthorne Bridge.

hawthorne bridge pdx shadows

I went back Friday with another friend because I wanted to capture the moving shadows. They’re a little cockroachy, aren’t they?

View from the other side of the Hawthorne Bridge: PacMan-esque shadows #pdx @sue.tangomango

A video posted by Michele (@pdxknitterati) on

Do you Instagram? I love it. I’m pdxknitterati over there, too. Come follow me for more fun pictures!

Here’s a little more Portland eye candy…

pdxknitterati burnside bridge

I’d never noticed the details on the Burnside Bridge turrets. Zoom in to see the detail under the windows. I love the leaf/flower? at the bottom, too.

pdx love locks

Apparently we’re copying Paris with love locks.

Eastbank EsplanadeAlong the esplanade.

Time to write up a pattern, and cast on for the next one! I already have it plotted out…

What’s on your needles?

Swatching and blocking, yarn and ice cream

Do you always swatch? Do you always wash and block your swatches? True confessions time here: I don’t always swatch, and when I do, I don’t always wash and block it. This has come back to bite me several times. Lesson learned! I’ve modified my approach: If the yarn is familiar to me, I might dive right in. A new yarn? It’s best to do my homework.

knitpicks galileo

This is Knit Picks Galileo in a deliciously plummy color called Urchin. It reminds me of these shield urchins I saw last December.

shingle urchins hawaii

But I digress.

This ia a new to me yarn. It’s sport weight, a 50/50 blend of Merino and Bamboo viscose. Two ply. It’s deliciously bouncy and round to knit with. Occasionally I’ll split the yarn with the Hiya Hiya Sharps that I’m knitting with, but I want that pointy tip for the lace stitches I’m working. It’s a reasonable trade-off.

The ballband recommends a size US 3-5 needle. I started with a 7, just for grins, because it’s going to be lace. Definitely too floppy. I swatched with a 6, and it felt pretty good, but I thought I’d push the envelope and swatch with a 5, too. It felt a little full on the needle, but surprise! It was my favorite of the three blocked swatches. It relaxed a lot from the bouncy knitted piece, but it also had more of the structure it needed to make this lace behave. So glad I swatched AND blocked in this instance. I’ve been knitting like crazy, and I’m halfway done with the project. No pictures; it’s a secret for now.

Speaking of plummy, my friends offered me plums from their super-productive tree again this year. I picked two colanders full, which was enough for two batches of jam.

yellow plums

I thought I’d come up with my perfect plum jam last summer. That was before I had some plum bourbon jam on a mini-doughnut at Pip’s Original Doughnuts. And over the year I’d also decided that I like a more traditional pectin set for plum jam. (Pomona’s is still my go-to for strawberry, and no pectin at all for raspberry.)

pdxknitterati bourbon plum jam

After the first batch, I went for the trifecta of favorite things: Plum, bourbon, crystallized ginger. Heaven. Not particularly boozy, but a extra depth of flavor that plain plum jam doesn’t have.

Notes for myself:

6 cups chopped plums
1/4 c water
Bring to boil, simmer 5 minutes. Add 1 box Sure-Jell pectin for less sugar (pink box) mixed with 1/4 cup sugar. Bring to boil.

Add
4.5 cups sugar
1/4 cup bourbon
1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

Boil 1 minute per pectin package drections, water bath process for 10 minutes (sea level).

Yum.

I must be an extravagant measurer, or maybe I should re-measure my plums after the first simmer, which I don’t, but I always end up with a bit more jam than I’m expecting. I can only process 8 jars with my stockpot/orange silicone trivet setup, and that’s my expected yield. Maybe it’s the added bourbon, ginger, water? Anyway, the extra jam goes into a jar and into the fridge. I had extras from 2 batches in the fridge, so I did this.

pdxknitterati plum bourbon jam ice cream

Plum bourbon jam ice cream. It was a good reason to use the ice cream maker the kids gave to me a couple years ago. And they were coming for dinner!

pdxknitterati plum bourbon jam ice cream

Tastes as good as it looks!

Inspired by Erica’s recipe, but I doubled it and adjusted it for sweetness:

2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup plum bourbon jam
up to 1/4 cup sugar, to taste

Mix milk, cream, jam. Taste! Adjust sweetness as desired. Process in ice cream maker 25-30 minutes. This is a soft set; I put the ice cream in a storage container in the freezer for a couple hours before serving for a firmer set. Delicious. In a perfect world I might make a custard base for a smoother texture, but that would mean more work. I wonder if I’d like it with half and half instead of cream? This is like swatching, with food! But I’m guessing that laziness will win out, and this simple version is probably how it will always happen at my house.

I think this would be spectacular with strawberry balsamic jam, with some additional sugared strawberries thrown in. Just sayin’.

So, extravagant swatching, blocking, measuring, eating! What is your extravagance this summer?

Pink…yarn, wine, and a PDX bridge ramble

I’ve just bound off and blocked a new design project.

Black Trillium Lilt

Such pretty leftovers! And they kind of go with my wine.

Black Trillium Lilt

I’ve loved every moment of knitting with this gorgeous gradient kit from Black Trillium Fibres. It’s Lilt, an 85/15 superwash merino/silk blend. Very nice. I’ve been intrigued by gradients recently, but this was my very first adventure with one. I’ll be back for more.

It’s a gorgeous day for blocking outdoors. And after my bird poop blocking incident, I’ve devised a way to protect my knits. I can’t show you what I’m blocking, but here’s the scoop.

screen for blocking

I had a roll of this fiberglass screen material in my basement. Once upon a time, I was going to make simple screens to put in our casement windows when they were open. Long story short, it never happened, and then we replaced all the windows a few years ago. (54 windows. Ouch. Love the new ones.) So I cut off a piece and laid it over my blocking project. I put a few extra pins in the project to hold the screen up above it, and a few more pins to hold down the corners. Perfect! And no bird pooped on it…this time.

Portland bridgesSteel, Broadway, Fremont Bridges

We’re having a very lovely summer in Portland. I walked the downtown bridge loop with a friend the other morning. It’s 2.7 miles from the Hawthorne Bridge to the Steel Bridge on the East Side Esplanade, over the Steel, along Waterfront Park on the west side, and back over the Hawthorne.

public pianoPlay me!

A picture perfect day. And we also took a little side trip to see the new Tillikum Crossing bridge, which is scheduled to open September 12. It’s for pedestrians, bicycles, and light rail. No cars. So pretty.

Tillikum Crossing

Yellow plums are ripe; there will be some plum bourbon jam in my near future. What’s on your needles or in your kitchen this summer?

Jamming…strawberries

Last month I bought some Hood strawberries, local berries that are so delicate they don’t go for sale outside the area. They’re tender and sweet and perfect. We ate some, and I made a small batch of strawberry balsamic jam with the rest.

strawberry balsamic jam

Three little jars of heaven. I liked Marisa’s recipe at Food in Jars, but I prefer my strawberry jam less cooked, so that there are still chunks of berries and a lighter color and less cooked flavor. This recipe uses no added pectin, so you have to cook it longer for it to set as jam. Still, delicious.

This week California berries are on sale at the supermarket for 99 cents/pound, so I decided to have another go at it. I bought 3 one pound boxes of berries, and used them all. A bit more than planned, but I don’t really like fresh strawberries, so there was no use in keeping some back!

I decided to use Pomona’s Pectin, which works with less sugar and the cooking time is minimal. You might remember my plum jam adventures from last year with Pomona’s Pectin. Ultimately, I decided that plum jam really wants to be made with traditional pectin and more sugar for that jewel-like set, so I’ll be back to that this summer. But for strawberries? Perfect.

strawberry balsamic jamsNo pectin on left, Pomona’s on right

I like the fresher taste and bits of fruit in this version with less cooking time. The only thing that I didn’t love is that my fruit wants to float in the jam after processing. Marisa says that it’s due to air trapped in the fruit, making it lighter than the rest of the jam. Possible fixes: Cut the fruit smaller (I wanted chunks, so no), macerate fruit with sugar overnight (too late for this time), or swirl fruit in jars as they cool (bingo).

fruit floating jam

I guess I missed one of the jars! I’ll keep that one for me, and mix it up when I open it. I have 4 half pints and 6 4-ounce jars.

The instructions for Pomona’s Pectin say to mix the pectin with the sugar, I think so it doesn’t clump. Next time, I’ll keep back half the sugar to mix with the pectin, and use the other half to macerate the berries overnight. Problem solved.

Notes to self for next year’s strawberry, with or without balsamic:

Strawberry balsamic jam

6 cups mashed berries, a little less than 3 pounds (I gave them a quick whirl in the food processor)
3 cups sugar (I might cut it back to 2.5 next time)
3 tsp Pomona’s Pectin
3 tsp calcium water
2 TBS balsamic vinegar, or more to taste

Combine fruit and 2 cups sugar; macerate in refrigerator overnight.

Canning day: Combine pectin with remaining sugar; set aside.
Add calcium water to fruit. Bring to boil. Add remaining sugar and pectin. Return to boil, stirring to dissolve pectin. Remove from heat.

Fill jars to 1/4″ from top, wipe rims clean, screw on lids. Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath canner. (Sea level, your altitude may vary! See instructions in the Pomona’s Pectin packet.)

Yield: 8-9 cups

If fruit still wants to float, swirl in jar after cooling 30 minutes. Any sooner and it’s still too liquid to keep it from floating back up.

What else? I noticed that a vine has taken over our dead bamboo stand. I thought it might be morning glory, which would need to be removed. It’s been growing on the bamboo for a couple years, wispy and delicate. But this year it’s very vigorous, and covered with buds, which don’t look like like morning glory.

passiflora overtakes bamboo

Yesterday it came into bloom. It’s too high for me to see from the ground, so I took this picture through the window.

passifora

It’s a passionflower (passiflora) vine! I think it was a volunteer from the neighbor’s yard. Pretty, but I can see how it might get out of hand. In fact, it is jumping over to the lilac on the left, so I pulled some down.

passiflora

Should I let it run free, as long as it leaves my lilac alone? The lilac needs pruning, so that will leave space between. But this thing is WILD! I read that some varieties make fruit, and so I guess I’ll wait it out. Passionfruit jam?

Are you jamming this season? I’m looking forward to plums. This year it’s going to be plum bourbon jam…