Category Archives: Blogging

Crafting Balance: Knitting and Music 3KCBWDay7

Day 7 of Knit and Crochet Blog Week is all about crafting balance. The original question had to do with knitting and crochet, but I don’t really crochet much. I use it for edgings and now for steeking, but don’t really intend to go much further. I’m a knitter! And an occasional beader, too.


But I do look go back and forth between knitting and music. You can tell from my blog header that making music is important to me. Music is the reason this post is late: Sunday was a music day for me, and I needed some time to recover.

My knitting has taken a back seat to music for the past couple months. I was so moved by my experience in Nicaragua that I wrote a song about it. I was inspired by the warmth of the people in the Nicaraguan village where we worked, and also by the group that I was with. The other inspiration was the moon. In the northern hemisphere, a crescent moon looks like the letter C. Closer to the equator, that crescent moon looks like the letter U. It’s the same moon, but it’s all a matter of perspective. The song is called “Grace Unforeseen,” and here are the lyrics (link to recording below lyrics):

Grace Unforeseen
Words/music © Michele Bernstein, 2012

God sent us to meet you, to lend you a hand
We started as strangers; now we are friends
We don’t share a language; smiles were our words
We met each other through the grace of the Lord

The moon shines on me, and shines on you
As you gaze at the moon, maybe I’m gazing too
We are friends around the world

Your lives are so humble; so are your homes
You made us feel welcome, with smiles so warm
“Pueblo” means village, people not a place
Your wealth is each other, your families’ embrace

The stars shine on me, and shine on you
As you wish on a star, maybe I’m wishing too
We are friends around the world

We thank God for water, sunshine, fresh air
The gift of each other, people who care
God calls us to service, in giving, receive
From sisters and brothers–grace, unforeseen

The sun shines on me, and shines on you
God smiles on me, and smiles on you too
We are one in God’s own world

We celebrated our trip in church on Sunday, and I sang this song with some friends. I had a technical issue with my recorder on Sunday so this version (link to recording) is from a practice session. We were outside on a sunny day; you can hear the birds and kids wandering through.

If you look at the word amateur, you’ll notice that the root of the word is love; amateur musicians pursue music out of love for it. I won’t say we’re ever perfect, but we love what we do. Before recorded music, the only way to hear music was in real time. You could go to a performance, or you could get together to make music. It was perfectly natural. Now that we have recorded standards, it’s much more intimidating to make music; we think we have to be as perfect as the music we hear. But music is so ephemeral. At the end of a song, do you remember a fleeting wrong note, or the overall feeling that was conveyed? I’m still learning to get past my perfectionist tendencies, and I think I’m getting there. Finally!

Thanks for reading along. The third annual Knit and Crochet Blog Week has been fun for me, and I hope it was for you, too.

And how was your weekend?

Eeek! Steeks! 3KCBWDay6

Last year during 2KCBW, I mentioned that I was going to learn to steek. I had all my research done and my game plan mapped out. All I needed to do was to “just do it.” But nothing happened. Eventually I realized I needed something to force me into it, so I signed up for a steeking class at my LYS. Unfortunately, I was the only person to sign up (chickens!), so the class was canceled. I thought I was off the hook. Then came the word: Mary Scott Huff, author of The New Stranded Colorwork, was going to teach a steeking class at Columbia Gorge Fiber Festival. It was time to commit!

Mary is an absolutely fabulous teacher. She’s funny, warm, down to earth…and fearless. Which you’d have to be, if you’re telling people that they’re going to cut up their knitting.


Apparently I had the right idea last year: steek on a swatch that you don’t care about. This works with the Tink Drop Frog class that I teach, too. There’s no emotional investment when you’re experimenting on a swatch! Perfect.

We learned 3 steeking techniques. The first used simple stitching to mark and reinforce the steek. Recognize this picture from Tuesday? The green yarn marks the cutting line, and the red thread is the reinforcement.


The first cut is the scariest, but Cathy wasn’t scared.


Me, neither. It’s a swatch!

first cut

The edge isn’t terribly stable, but it’s good enough that you can pick up and work an edging, a couple stitches in from the edge. This is an edge that you’d want to cover with seam binding or something similar. I’ve picked up and knit a garter stitch edging; see how the steeked edge turns to the back of the fabric?


The second steek used crochet to stabilize the edge. This is similar to the the one that I read about in Knitters magazine last year. I love how tidy it looks. (Look at all those blades! Are you feeling nervous?)


And look! I’m cutting!


This edge feels more stable than the sewn one. It’s good for armholes and button bands that will roll to the wrong side of your knitting. And in good non-superwash wool, it will eventually felt to itself and you won’t have a care in the world. It doesn’t need to be covered. You could choose a coordinating color for the crochet stitches, and have that be a secret feature on the inside of your knitting.

On to the third steek! This one was sewn by machine. It’s not as pretty as the crocheted one, but it’s very stable and would work for any kind of yarn, including a non-sticky wool or other fiber that wouldn’t hold as well with the other two methods. My personal favorite to work is the crocheted steek, but the machine sewn steek would work for everything, and the crocheted steek might not. (Hmmm, I don’t have a picture of this one. I must have been too ready to cut!)

All in all, a wonderful and empowering class. And after class, we got to check out Mary’s samples from her new book, Teach Yourself VISUALLY Color Knitting, that’s coming out next month.



After class, Cathy and I celebrated.


(See the crocheted steek with the garter stitch edging done?)

I was singing in church that morning, so I only had 30 minutes in the market before class time, but I did manage to say hi to Brooke (SincereSheep) and Lorajean (KnittedWit). Brooke is wearing her Pointer hat!


All right; you’ve seen my steeking adventure. Do you want to steek? Let’s do it!

Something A Bit Different 3KCBWDay5

Self-portrait: No Idle Hands

Truthfully, I’ve been searching for my knitting mojo for the last month or so. I’m not sure what I want to knit next. I think it’s partly because I’m pretty focused on music right now. No worries; it’s all part of the creative process…

A Knitter for All Seasons? 3KCBWDay4

How does local weather affect your knitting? That’s today’s question, and it sent me to my Ravelry project page to see what kind of seasonal knitter I am.

There are only two bulky wool sweaters, and I know I set both of them aside as the weather got warmer, thinking I’d finish them when cool weather came around again. I finished this Heather Hoodie cardigan (adapted from the Heather Hoodie Vest pattern) last year…

hoodie back

…and this year’s bulky project was recently set aside and is waiting for next fall. I get suckered into thinking it will be a quick knit because the yarn is bulky, but it’s still an entire sweater. If I don’t finish by the end of winter, I don’t want to keep knitting with a pile of bulky wool when it’s warm out.

But you can knit light summer tops all year ’round, and wear them for three out of four seasons if you add a cute little jacket or cardi over them. This is a much better time investment. Also, tank tops and shells don’t have sleeves, and that makes them a quicker knit all around, even at a finer gauge. This is especially true if it’s a fairly simple knit; I can watch TV or read on my Kindle and knit at the same time.


Accessories are always fun, and not usually heavy, even if they’re wool. I love designing accessories like hats, mitts, and shawls, because they’re quick and portable, and fitting is not as big an issue as it is for garments. Socks and slippers have a little bit of fitting, but they’re not too complicated. Most of my knitting is done with an eye towards design, so that takes up most of my knitting time. Here’s my latest pattern launch, Pointer Mitts and Hat, for the {Among Friends} Yarn and Fiber Club.

pointer set

Does your weather affect your choice of fiber? I love wool for most knitting, but when I look at all the summer tops I’ve knit I see a lot of cotton, and even some linen and hemp. I don’t mind the inelasticity of cotton, but linen was definitely a stringy challenge. It was all worth it, though, because the blocking was like magic. I washed and soaked this stiff linen tank in the sink after knitting it, and I could feel the fibers turning into the most wonderful slinky drapey fabric in my hands.

ruffle tank

So I guess I’m more of a summer knitter, all year ’round! How about you?

3KCBWDay3 Knitting Hero(ine)

I really got your curiosity going with yesterday’s picture post, didn’t I? I’m looking forward to showing you the rest of the story on Saturday. Yesterday’s post was brief because I was heading out of town for this.


A quick dash down to San Jose to see Bruce Springsteen last night. It was a great show. Lots of stuff from his new album, Wrecking Ball, and an encore filled with wonderful old stuff. He’s a great storyteller through song.


But I’m back home to slip in under the wire with my Knit and Crochet Blog Week Day 3 post about my knitting hero, or heroine, as she happens to be. My Aunt Rose taught me to knit the summer I was 14. I spent the summer with her and her family, and she wanted to share her love of knitting with me. We went to her local knit shop to begin a project. My choice was a baby blue drop shoulder turtleneck pullover with some simple cables running up the the body. It was made out of Brunswick Germantown Worsted (how do I even remember that?). I knit it in the round on circular needles, although I’m not sure the instructions were written that way. Aunt Rose was teaching me to be the boss of my knitting from day 1! My first sweater was not quite to gauge, so it ended up being pretty big on me. It didn’t matter; I loved it anyway. Many years later, I felted it on purpose, and that’s when I learned a valuable knitting fact: knitting shrinks up more than it shrinks in! I had a short boxy sweater, which would have been perfect in the 1980’s. I wonder where that sweater is now? But I digress.

Aunt Rose is still knitting, and is part of a knitting group at her favorite yarn shop. We don’t see each other often, but we always talk knitting! The last time she was visiting, she found out that I didn’t own a swift and yarn winder, and insisted on getting me these tools. They’ve gotten a lot of service in the past 6 months; I’m really grateful to have them. This picture is from last fall; my desk isn’t nearly so tidy today.


I’m saving these garments that Aunt Rose knit when my boys were born; someday they’ll get used again, I hope! (But not too soon…)



Do you have a knitting hero?

3KCBWDAY2–Photography Challenge

There’s a story here. I’ll tell you about it on Saturday. I promise.


Gotta run!

Paying it forward, and other bloggy fun

I’m a fan of the blog Eskimimi Makes; she’s always creating something fun. Now she’s participating in a creative “pay it forward” project, and I am, too. Here’s the scoop, as slurped from her blog:

1. I will send a surprise gift to the first three commenters on this post. The gift will be handmade by me. It will be sent sometime in the next 365 days. It will be a surprise. We all love getting surprises in the mail, right?

2. To sign up and receive a gift, you must play along, too. Pay it Forward on your blog, by promising to make a surprise for the first three people who comment on the post.

3. You must have a blog (that is updated, as I will blog stalk you to find the right gift for you).

4. After commenting here, you must repost this or something similar to your blog in 48 hours. If not, I will chose the next person who comments…

Sound like fun? Want to play? If you would like to receive a little handmade gift from me at some point in the next 365 days and agree to take part on your own blog and pay it forward, then leave your details below. If you’re one of the first three respondents, you’re in! If you’re not in the first three, pop over to the blogs of the first three respondents here (remember, there are 48 hours after your comment appearing here for you to post the Pay It Forward on your own blog, otherwise I will move on to the next person). I’m happy to accept respondents worldwide, too.

Let’s do it!

What else is going on this week? It’s been a numbers heavy week. Taxes at the beginning (and they weren’t quite right the first time, so back to the accountant for a swap), and then tech editing for someone mid-week. Lots of numbers there, because the stitches have to add up, and the garment has to match the schematic! This is the only kind of math I like.

Here’s what I’m knitting this week. Can you guess what it is?


Well, yes, it looks like a hat, and it would actually be a good one, because the stranded fabric is nice and dense and would keep the wind out. But it’s not a hat. It’s my homework for a class I’m taking on Sunday at Columbia Gorge Fiber Festival. The class is Eeek! Steeks! with Mary Scott Huff. I’m going to be cutting this knitting up…on purpose. I’m looking forward to it! There’s still room in the class if you want to come, too. Check out the Columbia Gorge Fiber Festival website for more info. Not up for class? Come out for the market this weekend!

Also, do you see the little blurry picture on the laptop screen behind the knitting homework? It’s for the third annual Knit and Crochet Blog Week, which begins April 23. Do you want to play along? You’ll find the topics listed on this page. These links are all for Eskimimi Makes, so it’s a very Eskimimi post today!

Sharing the love…of knitting and yarn

I’m the winner of some delicious Blue Sky Alpacas Melange 100% baby alpaca yarn, and a copy of winter Interweave Knits, courtesy of Allison Haas, aka Alaskan Purl! Her design for her offset cable mittens is in this issue, and she is celebrating with a giveaway.


The mittens are super cute, and begin at the tip with Judy’s Magic Cast On, instead of at the cuff. Clever!

The yarn photographs as brown, no matter how I set my white balance. It’s really more of a mustardy greenish yellow. It’s exquisitely soft.



You can see in the last picture that it’s really much more complex. There are shades of green, yellow, and even red in the mix.

Allison has a winner with this pattern. Check out her blog at Alaskan Purl Designs. Thanks, Allison!

And…because I already have a copy of this issue of Interweave Knits, I’ll give away this copy to a randomly selected commenter. Leave your comment below. Contest closes at midnight on Wednesday (tomorrow).

PS: Does this mean I’m acquiring a stash? Yikes! To de-stash a little, I’ll also include this skein of ridiculously sunny Malabrigo Worsted. I used it for my relentlessly cheery bedsocks. 40 stitches around makes a quick knit!



The first picture is truer in color than the picture of the socks. Want to knit with a smile? Comment below. Good luck!

Social by nature…

I was once described as “social by nature” in the NY Times. It’s true; you can google it! And here are some ways to find me with social media:

This blog, of course. And the Lantern Moon blog, too.

I’ve added a Facebook page for PDXKnitterati. I’m using it for all things knit- and fiber-related: blog posts, sales, contests, and more. You can find it here.

I tweet as @pdxknitterati, if you’re inclined to be part of the twitterverse.

There’s a PDXKnitterati Ravelry group, too!

Every once in a while I check to see how people find this blog. Mostly it’s linking from somewhere else, but the search terms that people use can be a riot. I was surprised to see that if you google “pum pum pum aloha aloha,” my blog is the number one search result. Must have been the thrummed knitting on vacation!

Knit related: I’m sketching for a little design project. I think I’ve gotten my little selfish knitting binge done, and it’s back to work! Oh, but I’m also knitting some worsted socks. For me. They’re a relentlessly cheery take-along project, or TV-watching project.


What’s in a name? I’m PDXKnitterati everywhere

I just changed my username over at Ravelry. I’m now pdxknitterati over there. I think it’s easier to remember than MicheleLB. (How many L’s in Michele? Why random letters LB? huh?) If you know my blog, you know my Ravelry name, and my twitter ID, too. Come follow me down the garden path!


Still swatching, and charting, and I think I have a plan for the next design. What I don’t have is some good mindless knitting that I can just pop into my knitting bag for those spare moments. I’ll get to that…soon. Maybe some big fat worsted weight socks! What’s your “on the go” knitting project?