Category Archives: Blogging

2KCBW: Playing the wild card

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The experimental blogging scheduled for today is just too much for this busy week. A pictorial only post? No new pix around here. A podcast? I don’t listen to them often (although I’ve been on one!), because I can’t skim them like I skim reading. A videocast? Even worse for me. so I’m playing the wild card. “Embellish the story: Blog about an embellishment…”

Buttons. I love buttons. Choosing the perfect button for a project is the icing on the cake. And like icing, I don’t get to have it until the cake, or project, is done. The buttonholes have to be made before I take my project to my favorite button store, the Button Emporium in downtown Portland. It’s a great incentive program to have to finish knitting before shopping, and it also means that I’ll be able to tell if the button is the correct size!

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These are the buttons on my most recent sweater, the Heather Hoodie (cardigan instead of vest). I love how heavy they are, perfect on a garment knit with bulky yarn. I also love the gear motif. A friend saw this picture on Facebook and asked if she could use it to illustrate the concept of a hub. Sure!

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These are the buttons on my February Lady Sweater. They’re also from Button Emporium.

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And these buttons are perfect on Hey, Teach, and they’re from…Button Emporium. I told you it’s my favorite button source!

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But sometimes you just need quick and cute. These are on a February Baby sweater, and they’re from Twisted.

Cardigans aren’t always so quick to knit, so I don’t get a button fix all that often. What’s a knitter to do? What can you put on plain knitting to give it a little kick?

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Yes. Ruffles.

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I love them on this otherwise plain tank that I made last summer. This is Leigh Radford’s Ruffle Tank. Perfect.

I’m currently experimenting with ruffles on a couple current design projects. I hope they do what I want them to do. The first version ruffle had a mind of its own!

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Where are they now? The lives of handknits…

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That’s the topic for Day 4 of the second annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week. The question sent me to my Ravelry projects page, and strangely enough, I know where most of those items are. I seem to knit mostly for me or for family, and things stay in house. Or I knit as a design project, and then I usually keep it. But occasionally things get away.

I loved this sweater that I knit for myself, Aguave by Katharine Hunt, from Knitter’s magazine Summer 2005. It was gorgeous in mercerized cotton (and not as bottom heavy as it looks from this angle). I wore it a few times, but I realized that it was way too big for me. I was swimming in fabric! Even the shoulders were too wide, so I tried stabilizing them with fabric seam binding. Nope, still swimming. I’ve since realized that most knits look better on me with either zero or negative ease. I’m not completely averse to frogging an entire sweater (been there, done that), but it was so lovely, and my friend Anna thought so, too. So I gave it to her! I just emailed her to ask if she still wears it…

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Here’s one of the oldest knitted things I have.

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I knit Gromit in 1996. The pattern is by Alan Dart, and was published in the magazine Woman’s Weekly in the UK. I was on the KnitList (still am), and someone offered to send me the pattern. (Thanks, Norma! I still think of you fondly.) Two other knitting mom friends also knit Gromit at the same time, and while they all looked like Gromit, they were all completely different from each other! Our little guys loved them. Before you ask, I’m sorry to say that I don’t have the pattern any more. But Gromit still sits on my piano, where I see him every day.

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2KCBWDAY4

Tidy mind, tidy stitches…

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“How do you keep your yarn wrangling organised?”

I don’t stash a lot of yarn, so I don’t have a lot of yarn to keep track of. I like to choose yarn for each new project as I go. If I buy too far in advance, my fancies usually take me in a different direction when I’m ready to start a new project, and then the purchased yarn never gets used.

Most of my knitting stuff lives here. Needles in Lantern Moon silk needle cases, notions, a few skeins of sock yarn, UFO’s on temporary hiatus, FO’s, a basket of hand knit socks in the lower right corner, because they take up too much room in my sock drawer. I bought this shelving system at IKEA, and I love it. The empty cubby? It has a Lantern Moon rice basket of miscellaneous stuff that needs to get put away.

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This is how the shelf looked last summer when I set it up, and pretty much how it looks, now. The only yarn that doesn’t live there lives in a couple underbed boxes; it’s mostly leftovers from past projects. I tend to buy an extra skein so that I don’t run out before the project is finished. Another lesson learned the hard way. It’s better to have too much than too little!

I generally have one or two projects going at any one time; more than that guarantees that something will get abandoned. I hate that. Current projects live in whichever knitting basket has my fancy. I have a lot of Lantern Moon baskets, LOL. You can see several on the shelf: the green Polka Dot Ring tote, my all-time favorite square Lantern Tote, the black fabric Gidget tote, several of the iconic rice baskets in different sizes and colors. I’ve acquired a couple more since that picture.

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The Anna tote, and


the fabulous Bindi.

The one downfall of my basket system is that I tend to dump from one basket to another, so I can take the one I want on any particular day. Leftover yarn and tools from finished objects tend to stay in baskets and get dumped from basket to basket, too. It’s time for a clean sweep. Um, maybe next week. I’m blogging this week!

What about books? They live downstairs, on their own shelf. I have a lot…

2KCBGDAY3

Mad Knitting Skills: 1 Up!

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Knitting skills: They’re cumulative! Each new skilled learned is another tool in the toolkit, leading to another idea. What else can I do with this skill? I love that!

One new skill that I’ve learned this past year is adding beads to my knitting. Actually, I learned the basics of this at a “one hour wonder” workshop with Sivia Harding at Sock Summit in 2009, but the new skill languished until I wanted to embellish a shawl I was designing, Pacific.

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I love this method of adding beads as you go. It’s a little fiddly, but you only do it when you need to. That works for me. I once started a project that began with pre-stringing a hundred beads. I didn’t like the way it felt with the beads hanging on the working yarn, and I never finished it.

In case you’re interested, I’m donating 100% of my proceeds from now until April 30 from online sales of my Pacific shawl pattern to the Red Cross for Japan Earthquake/Tsunami relief. I’m paying the Ravelry and paypal fees myself; 100% of the purchase price is going towards disaster relief. I’m hoping the gentle waves on this shawl will help bring healing to our neighbors across the Pacific.

2KCBWDAY2

Oh, yarn, how I love thee…

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…but not just any yarn. My favorite yarns these days are those with a long slow color change like many of the Noro yarns, the Crystal Palace Mochi line, Crystal Palace Taos, and Knit Picks Chroma. I’ve been designing with entrelac lately, and these yarns are perfect for it! I think you’ll agree.

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Infinity Entrelac Infinity Scarf in Noro Silk Garden Lite

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Infinity Entrelac Infinity Scarf in Crystal Palace Mini Mochi

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Lacy Entrelac Infinity Scarf in Knit Picks Chroma

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Athena in Crystal Palace Taos

I’m not the best at choosing colors that work well with each other. (I picked colors for my parents’ house once; what should have been vanilla and tasteful pine turned out more peach milkshake and garish green…) These yarns have the colors already set, and the entrelac makes it look like I changed colors as I was knitting each section, but really the yarn did all the work. Clever!

My other favorite yarns are semi-solid, tone on tone yarns for lace. I’m working on a design project now, with these lovely stormy gray yarns from Knitted Wit (individually, not together).

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And here are some other semi-solid lace projects I’ve knit.

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My Pacific shawl, in Malabrigo Sock yarn.

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Evelyn Clark’s Shetland Triangle in Painted Skeins’ Merino Silk & Silver

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Ysolda Teague’s Ishbel in Malabrigo Sock Yarn

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Ysolda Teague’s Ishbel in Claudia Hand Painted Yarns Silk Lace

One color at a time. Safe, right? I love the way handpainted variegated yarns look in the skein, but I’m not always happy with the way they knit up. I find color pooling at the ankles of my socks irksome. That’s not going to happen with a semi-solid! Oh, here’s a picture of one of my least favorite projects, a Frankenstein’s monster of variegated and entrelac. Not a good combination. Check out the pooling/flashing, and general awkwardness. (This is not a handpaint, BTW)

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Lesson learned. Long slow color repeats for entrelac!

2KCBW

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2011

Hey, bloggers: Are you doing Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2011? I think I’m in. It starts on Monday, March 28.

Participating bloggers will all blog on the same topics for the week. There’s a wildcard topic if one of the topics just doesn’t work for you. If you want to search for posts by all participating bloggers each day, you can search with these tags:

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I may be a little slow getting the first post up. I’m off getting in touch with my inner princess.

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I had an enabler…

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Podcast: Entrelac. Forecast: Sunny

I’m on the Knit Picks podcast, Entrelac-tastic! Stacey asked if I’d be a part of an entrelac episode, and I was happy to say yes. The episode begins with an interview with Rosemary Drysdale, author of Entrelac: The Essential Guide to Interlace Knitting, which I reviewed here. The episode also has an interview with in-house designer Kerin, and a review of Gwen Bortner’s book, Entree to Entrelac.

It was fun to chat with Stacey in my current role as entrelac evangelist. She asked me how I started designing, and I gave a roundabout answer, but the real answer is this. Sometimes I want to knit something, and can’t find a pattern that’s exactly what I want. So I have to come up with a way to match the picture in my head. It’s that simple.

Knit Picks is giving away a copy of Rosemary Drysdale’s book. Leave a comment on their blog to enter!

The funny thing about this interview is that Stacey and I live in the same city, but I was a continent away when I spoke with her. Another college visit, this time to University of Central Florida in Orlando. This is a huge school, 46,000 undergrad. But the 1700 student Honors College appears to be stellar; we were quite won over by the director’s presentation.

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The teams are called the Knights; the school logo is Pegasus. There are a lot of constellation names on this campus (Gemini, Apollo, Orion), which makes sense because the school started out as Florida Technological University, a support system for the nearby Kennedy Space Center. The campus is laid out in concentric circles, with the student union at the center, classroom buildings on the next circle, housing at the outer edge. It feels a little theme-parkish (very Orlando!), but it makes perfect sense to keep traffic out of the main pedestrian campus.

Speaking of theme parks, we had an extra day in Orlando, so we went to Epcot. It was ok, but I’m not much of a theme park person.

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This fellow came to lunch.

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Here are a couple other birds; I made them in a needle-felting class last week. My friend Carole signed us up for this class at Collage as a Christmas present. It was great!

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I’m scheduled to teach at Twisted next Thursday evening; coincidentally, it’s entrelac! We’ll be doing my Infinity Entrelac Infinity Scarf, and the Lacy Entrelac Infinity Scarf will be a bonus option included in the pattern that comes with the class. If you want to learn a spiffy provisional cast on and the basics of entrelac, this class is for you! You can even learn to purl back backwards (without turning your work). Contact Twisted to register.

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lacy midwinter

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Be on the lookout…

for a suitcase full of lovely knitwear. Local designer Mary Scott Huff’s car was broken into here in Portland, and her knitted garments for her trunk show were stolen. You can read her letter to the thief, hoping against hope that these knits will be returned to her.

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I hope she gets them back. That’s six months of intensive knitting, gone in a blink.

TNNA inspiration

Last Saturday and Sunday I walked the floor at TNNA. Lots of yarn and needles and bags and designs and more to see. I don’t have a ton of photos from the floor, because cameras are technically not allowed, but here’s a rainbow from Bergere de France. (I had met Vincent the night before, so wasn’t shy about asking for a photo!)

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The Lantern Moon booth was beautiful, as planned, and the butterflies all stayed in their places (hooray).

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The Pico Accuardi booth had a woodland theme, complete with its own pixie.

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BTW, his sweet hat is a felted creation by Sarah at Attitude Hats.

I took a few mini-session classes. The first was on social networking, led by Erin Slonaker, editor-in-chief of Yarn Market News. One thing that she told us about that I’d never heard of: Pinterest. It’s like bookmarking, but publicly, and it’s very visual. You can make beautiful pages of things that interest you, and share them. Erin talked about things going viral via Pinterest. Go look! Here’s Erin with the YMN cake at Soho Publishing’s Sunday reception. You may know her as the designer of the Leyburn Socks on her Pepperknit blog.

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I also took a class on blogging/social media with Benjamin Levisay (CEO) and Kimberly Reynolds (social media director) of XRX, Inc. Their point? Do it! But don’t stress about it. They said that a company should have four things in the social networking world: blog, Facebook, Twitter, and a Ravelry page. We’re getting there…I need more hours in a day.

I had two mini-sessions with Trisha Malcolm, editor of Vogue Knitting. One was on teaching, and one was a color forecast for spring/summer. I’ll tell you about the colors later, when I can take a picture of the color card. So gray here in PDX this weekend, and I haven’t been home during the day.

Lantern Moon had a champagne punch reception to celebrate their 10th anniversary TNNA show.

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The team from Soho Publishing brought us a cake!

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Jess, Casey, Sarah, and Mary-Heather from Ravelry helped us celebrate.

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I love Mary-Heather’s shawl, and I can’t remember what it is. I tried looking at her gallery on Ravelry, but couldn’t find it. Do you recognize it?

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Kristin Omdahl (far right) came by to showcase her new book, A Knitting Wrapsody. She had some friends model samples of a few of the designs. They are really lovely. The book comes out next month, and it looks great. Best feature: it comes with a dvd to demonstrate less familiar techniques. What a great idea.

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You can see how I was wearing many hats at TNNA last weekend: blogger, LM blogger, designer, LYS teacher! One last cool thing: Unicorn Books had a book signing/giveaway almost every hour. It took me a while to figure that out, so I just ended up with two. I’ll tell you about them later, after I can take a picture or two, and maybe even get a chance to sit down and look at them!

This weekend? The Day Old Pastries played at a MLK Workday and Celebration for the Portland Backpack Lunch Program. It was a fun gig, and that’s another hat for me!

SEA-PDX yarn train 2011

We interrupt this TNNA blog-fest with a report on the Seattle to Portland Yarn Train Yarn Crawl.

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I started my day at Urban Fiber Arts, Cindy Abernethy’s shop. It was full of happy knitters. Susan Stambaugh of Abstract Fiber was there, and she brought spinning fiber in a new colorway, Urban Joy, in honor of Cindy’s fairly new shop. Gorgeous!

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The PDXKnitBloggers/PDXSpinnerati were out in force, too: Karen’s mom, Karen, Judy, Bobbie.

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I met Kathee of Kathee Nelson Art Yarns, and she showed me some of her pretty fiber.

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I ignored the siren song of the cupcakes at Cupcake Jones (a coupon!) and went over to Knit/Purl next. There were lots of happy knitters there, too. I actually ran into my across the street neighbor who teaches there, too. Hi, Judy! And I saw Jared Flood’s yarn, Shelter, for the first time. The colors were deep and luscious.

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After Knit/Purl, I went to Starbucks across the street, and found more PDXKnitBloggers: Camille, Kathy (also a Turkish Delight spindler), Angela, Rachel, Tami. Please note that Tami’s shirt and shawl are raspberry, not pink.

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We were discussing where to go next, and talking to the yarnies at the next table, who wanted to know how to get to Yarn Garden. I offered to drive them, and I assured them that I was not an ax murderer. Norma, Sandi and Anna trusted me, and we went to Yarn Garden, where they had a good time.

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We also went to Happy Knits, and Twisted, because Sandy wanted to see Blue Moon Fiber Arts yarn, up close and personal. She got her wish! And she definitely got some yarn, too…

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OT: Interweave Knits is offering a free download of 7 hat patterns here.