Category Archives: KAL

Thrumbelina KAL, and a winner

Just in case you need more fun knitting this month, I’m having a Thrumbelina KAL beginning January 21.

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My good friends at Lantern Moon are having their spring retreat at Timberline Lodge this year, and as part of their goodie bag they are sending Thrumbelina kits to their participants for a pre-retreat KAL. The lucky retreat participants will have cozy toes in a gorgeous setting in April. I can’t go, but I’ll have cozy toes here at home, and so can you.

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This is a great introduction to thrumming. What’s thrumming? Working bits of wool into your knitting as you go. So cushy! I had a thrumming class at Twisted last Monday. Look at all the squishy fiber on the table. Thanks for thrumming with me!

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I’m coordinating the KAL through my PDXKnitterati Ravelry group; join the group and it will be in your Ravelry forums. I’m giving away two copies of the Thrumbelina pattern before the KAL begins; leave a comment on this post by January 15 if you’d like a chance to win.

Speaking of winners, I have a winner of the Under 100 Knit Collection from Knit Picks ebook. It’s Laura, who commented on December 30. Laura, I’ll be in touch! Thank you all for playing along; I loved learning about your favorite 2013 knits.

Still knitting like a madwoman clearing the needles for upcoming KALs! And still dreaming of Lempster, but I don’t think I can do it. I have a design due soon, and I should do that first. Not a bad problem to have, though.

Don’t forget to leave a comment to win a copy of Thrumbelina!

January is selfish knitting month: cast on with me!

After the frenzy of gift knitting (which I don’t do…), January is traditionally selfish knitting month. (And I’m using the term selfish in the most positive way: for your SELF!) What are you going to knit? Are you casting on something new, or trying to finish something already on the needles? I need to finish something to clear my needles before this.

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I’m planning to knit the Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery KAL, so I can have this shawlette for myself. My original will be a sample somewhere for the next year, and I want one for me NOW. Will you be knitting along with me? You’re invited! Check out the RCYC group on Ravelry for ongoing details.

I’m also having a Thrumbelina KAL. If you were lucky enough to register for Lantern Moon’s April retreat, you’ll be knitting your own Thrumbelinas along with me before the retreat so you’ll have cozy toes when you go to Timberline Lodge. No kick off date yet; we’re working out details. But you don’t have to be going on this retreat to knit along. The more the merrier for the KAL, as far as I’m concerned. More thrums for everyone!

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And I need to get started on a new design, due in March.

All three of these upcoming knits are fun, but technically for me they’re work, so they’re not really selfish knitting. What about something that’s just for me? I guess finishing the current knit is all about me (my own knit of my new shawl design debuting in February), so that counts. But I’m also dreaming of casting on Lempster from Knitty. While I’ve been dreaming, my friend Sarah has knit two of them! I received some gift cards to Twisted for Christmas, so they may kick start my Lempster. Am I crazy? Can I get all these knits done in a timely manner? There’s only one way to find out!

What’s your selfish knitting for January? If you need some inspiration, go look through the Doomsday Knits and Under 100 Knit Collection sets. And don’t forget, I’m having a giveaway of the Under 100 ebook. Leave a comment on the previous post to enter to win. Happy new year!

MKAL colors, chat

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I’m so looking forward to the Rose City Yarn Crawl MKAL. I’m going to knit the mystery shawlette in the same colors I used when I designed it, because I love it so much I want one for me! I’m not sure where the sample is going to live for the next year, but you can be sure I’ll be enjoying mine.

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This is Knitted Wit Single Fingering in Silver Lining and Madge. I love the contrasty pop between these colors. I originally had chosen a paler pink, which looked like it coordinated nicely, but I liked this combo a lot better. Here’s an early hint: There is some striping in this shawlette. (I can tell you that because it says so on the pattern’s Ravelry page.) Take some of your yarn, wrap it around a pencil 8 times or so, and then use your second color and do the same right next to it. Do this again to alternate the two colors a couple times. Do you like the way they look together? Yes? You’re good to go!

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Hey, look, I finished something! This is In Threes by Kelly Herdrich. I knit it with Malabrigo Worsted, and it’s sweet. It’s very oversized, though; it will be a while before Lorajean’s new baby can wear it!

I bought a new camera, and these are the first pictures I’ve downloaded from it. I like it so far. It’s a micro four thirds camera, a Panasonic Lumix GF6 (last year’s model) with a 14-42 kit lens (DSLR equivalent is 28-84). It’s smaller and lighter than a DSLR, which means I might even travel with it. I like to travel light as far as cameras go, and I didn’t want to buy a camera that would only be used at home for photographing knitting!

More pix, next post…

Have you chosen your colors for the mystery KAL yet? Are you stash diving or going shopping? (I love an excuse to shop.)

Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery KAL

The 2014 Rose City Yarn Crawl is coming up fast. It’s February 27 – March 2 next year, but the fun starts NOW.

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We’re having a mystery knit along (KAL) and crochet along (CAL) before the crawl starts. We? Yes, we! I’m thrilled to let you know that I’m the designer of the 2014 Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery KAL Shawlette. As a native Portlander, I hope you enjoy the very Portland elements that I designed into this piece.

Presales of the shawlette patterns (one knit and one crochet) have begun through Ravelry. You’ll have plenty of time to pick the perfect yarn for your shawlette. Join the chatter in the RCYC group on Ravelry. Knitting begins in January, which is traditionally selfish knitting month after holiday gift knitting!

The shawlette is knit with two colors in fingering weight yarn; I chose to work with two semi-solids. Please come knit along with me; I’m looking forward to knitting along with you!

Want to know more about the yarn crawl? Check out all the details on the Rose City Yarn Crawl page. You can order a tote with this year’s new logo, and sign up for the Yarn Ball, a pre-yarn crawl reception on Wednesday, February 26.

Don’t live in Portland? You can still knit along. I think you’ll love this shawlette. I know I do!

Blocking lace tutorial: magic!

Blocking is magic for lace knitting. You may think that your project is finished once it’s off the needles, but that’s when the fun really begins. The true beauty of lace doesn’t show until you go through the finishing step of blocking.

Some of us are finishing up our Garland KAL shawls. I’m blocking Garlands for a couple of my local KAL knitters, as well as my own. Here are a couple Garland Shawls before

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and during blocking.

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After:

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Magic!

I thought I’d walk you through blocking on blocking wires, if you haven’t done it before. If you don’t have blocking wires, it’s also possible to do this using string in place of the wires (I’d use mercerized cotton, or linen), but I prefer the stiffness of the wires. Don’t weave in your yarn ends until after blocking. There’s going to be a lot of stretching going on.

Let’s get started!

First, I soak the knitted garment in the kitchen sink with a little bit of Soak, my favorite non-rinse wool wash. Use warm water and allow the garment to soak for at least 20 minutes to relax the fibers.

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The garment is really saturated and stretchy at this point! Support it from underneath, and squeeze out as much water as you can with your hands. Do not twist or wring. Next, lay it on a folded towel, fold the towel over that, and walk all over it. Really. This will get most of the water out.

The next step is to thread the straight edges onto the blocking wires. I put the wires along the top edge, going over and under the garter ridges. If you have an especially long edge, you would use two or three wires to cover the length, but overlap the wires by an inch or so at the place(s) where they meet. I know that you may consider this top edge to be a curve, but it works fine to block it straight, and it’s much easier to pin out this way. Triangle shawls are straight along the top; heart shaped shawls can be blocked straight along the top, too. Crescent shawls like my Webfoot or Filigree? I like to pin them all around, no wires.

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Now the fun begins. Stretch out the garment so that the lovely laciness shines! Use the metal t-pins that came with the blocking wires to hold the wires in place. You’ll need to be working on a surface that can take your pins. In the summer, I’ve been using my old Dritz cardboard cutting board on a table outside. The cardboard is getting tatty after being pinned a bazillion times, but it still works. In the winter, I block on a futon sofabed in the basement. There are also blocking mats that you can purchase specifically for this purpose, and I’ve seen knitters use foam interlocking alphabet blocks, too. (A useful child’s toy, but be careful, some of the colors may transfer to your yarn.) Knitter’s choice!

If you’re pinning out points, you run the wires through the points like this,

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or you can pin each point out separately, like this center point.

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I pinned out each point of my peacock green Garland, but only because I forgot that I could run wires instead! Wires are much faster to set up.

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Let the garment dry completely, and then un-pin. Sew in your ends. The result? Instead of a crumpled wad of knitting, you have a diaphanous piece of gossamer loveliness.

Do you block your lace? Aggressively? I hope so!

Garland KAL: math, gauge, halfway point!

Math is my friend on my Garland shawl KAL project. I want to use as much of this lovely Knitted Wit Cashy Lite as possible in this piece. The ball weighed in at 4.5 oz, or 127 grams, 495 yards. That’s a lot of yarn! I didn’t check my gauge before starting. I knew I’d be weighing my yarn as I worked, so no worries about not having enough. I just had to come out with a fabric that I liked. I just checked now, and I’m getting 19 st/4 inches, which is way looser than the 23 st/4 inches specified in the pattern.

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I’ve completed 9 repeats in the increase section, and used 54 grams of yarn. I’ll need 54 grams for the matching decrease section, too, so that means I have 19 grams left for the single repeat in the center section. The 9th repeat took 9 grams of yarn, and the center one will take about the same. 19 grams is plenty of yarn for that single repeat, but not enough to do an additional increase/decrease set. Math portion of my shawl is officially done! Now that I no longer need to keep weighing my yarn, this becomes a portable project with the help of my new beading tin.

For comparison, test knitter Rachel knit at 24/st inch. After 9 repeats in the increase section, she had used 47 grams. (Her 9th repeat took 7 grams of yarn.) She needed 47 grams for the matching decrease section, so that left her 33 grams for the center section, more than enough for the 7 grams it would take. We could have added another increase/decrease set, but I wanted the pattern to work for a skein with less yardage, too. (Cashy Lite comes in a BIG skein, but not all fingering weight yarns do.)

My shawl is knit with the same number of stitches as Rachel’s, but mine will be larger because of the difference in gauge. I love this construction because it is so easily adaptable for YOUR yarn and YOUR gauge. The pattern has it all planned for you, but if you have more or less yarn, or you deviate from the specified gauge, all you need is a kitchen scale.

One more thing: I counted my garter stitches, and I’m missing one. I missed an increase somewhere along the way. It’s hard to tell where I missed it in the garter stitch, but I think it’s 40 rows back. If I can’t see it, no one else can, either. It’s not a big deal; I’ll just skip a decrease later. No stress! Knit on…

Managing your beads for knitting

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Still happily knitting along on my Garland Shawl for the KAL. Based on Sarah’s comment yesterday, I absconded with an Altoids tin from CollegeKid’s room. (He’s home for the summer. The tin has been there much longer…) It’s just the right size for a short tube of beads, a magnet, and my Bead Aid. The tube keeps most of the beads corralled, so if I spill, it’s just a few beads that go flying.

It was a little bit noisy with the beads rolling around in the tin, so I cut a scrap of craft fun foam to fit the bottom of the tin. Now the sound of rolling beads won’t disturb DH when I’m doing my night owl knitting. The foam also makes it easier for me to pick up a bead. The magnet holds my Bead Aid, and it also secures the fun foam to the bottom of the tin.

Perfect tool, and free! Thank you, Sarah!

Yarn and laughter hangover

Monday’s Garland KAL cast on party at Twisted? Fun!

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I made party favor stitch markers:

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And Sarah, maker of Bead Aids, made me these beautiful earrings. Aren’t they stunning? She is very talented!

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They go perfectly with my shawl to be. (Better than the picture below would suggest; the color is much richer in person)

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And yes, there was a giant cookie, as promised!

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There’s still 2/3 of the cookie left…it was huge.

Also, I had this message from Sherecie on the PDXKnitterati Ravelry forum last week. It made me laugh out loud.

…so, I’m a really bad knit-a-long-er.
I couldn’t wait to cast on & thought I would get started last weekend. It was among other WIPs, so I thought I would knit on it a little, here & there, until the official cast on date & then work on it exclusively…

pdxknitterati, I think you need to add a warning message on this pattern… something like “This thing is hugely addictive” and “Let your other projects know you’re starting this & tell them you won’t be back to them until it’s done.”

I’m finished.
It’s blocking outside.
I’m in love with it.
I’m sorry I didn’t knit-along with all of you, but I will be watching and squeeing at all the pictures as you go!!

I did tell her she could knit another one with us. What’s your summer knit?

Garland Shawl KAL cast on day

It’s cast on day for the Garland KAL. I’m meeting with local knitters this evening at Twisted, 5-7 p.m. I’ll bring some appetizers, party favors, and a giant cookie tray that I picked up yesterday.

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Gee, should I bring a pizza cutter for it? But it seemed appropriate for a summer KAL.

Here are a couple tips for Garland, just to get started. First of all, the special bind off. It’s really stretchy, and makes it possible to block the leafy edging to its full glory. You can use a regular bind off, but it’s much easier to pin out with the stretchy bind off described in the pattern. (If you’ve already cast on, you can change mid-project. No one will look close enough to see that they’re not the same.)

Second tip: I like to put a marker between stitches 13 and 14 on the edging. That way I don’t have to count to know where to start the next leaf after the bind off row. It starts right at the marker.

Remember, there’s Garland KAL chatter in the PDXKnitterati group on Ravelry, so pop over there and join the party!

It’s Rose Festival here in Portland, and the weather has been uncommonly nice. Usually it rains for Rose Festival, but it’s been spectacular here. Remember this rose planting with the Royal Rosarians in 2010?

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Here’s the rose today:

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It’s really happy in its space!

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And I snapped this picture in my back yard last night at dinner. I think it’s St. John’s Wort; there’s a ton of it growing under my bamboo.

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I didn’t even realize the tips of the stamens were pink until I looked at the picture. Sweet!

Is it summer for you yet?

Shortcake, and yarn

I’m still between projects, trying to decide if I’m going to start something before the Garland KAL cast on Monday. I want to have the right needles free when it’s time to start!

The yarn is definitely ready. There was a drive-by yarning here Wednesday.

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My Peacock and Janet’s Moody Blues. And the beads I bought at Shipwreck?

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They look to be a perfect match. I have way more than enough. There are about 150 beads per strand, and I have 6 strands. I don’t know if you can tell, but the beads are clear, with a peacock lining.

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There is still time to join the KAL; we don’t cast on until Monday. The coupon code for the discount on the Garland Shawl pattern is GarlandKAL. Join us! And if you’re local in Portland, join us at Twisted this Monday evening from 5-7 for a cast on party.

What else is occupying my thoughts?

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Strawberry shortcake. (Please excuse the lighting; it was late at night.) Local strawberries are just coming into season, but I haven’t had any yet. I’ve been making do with California berries. Let’s just say I’m practicing for the real thing. Here’s my current shortcake recipe. They’re like my scones, only more butter, and no egg. Crunchy on the outside, tender on the inside, especially when they’re still warm from the oven. They also reheat well in the toaster oven.

Strawberry Shortcake
serves 8

2 pounds fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and sliced
2 tablespoons sugar (or more, to taste)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or both

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a medium bowl, stir together the strawberries and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and 3 T sugar. Cut the butter into pieces and then blend them into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter until it resembles coarse crumbs. Combine milk and vanilla and add to flour mixture; stir until just combined.

Using your hands, gently divide mixture into 8 equal size balls, and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 12 – 15 minutes at 425 degrees. Cool on a rack, just a bit. To serve, split a warm shortcake in two, and serve with ice cream, whipped cream, or both.

What’s your favorite summer dessert?