Category Archives: KAL

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?

Garland Shawl cast on options

I’m planning my cast on for the Garland KAL. My prototype shawl is very wide and shallow. I’d like to make my next one deeper, like test knitter Rachel’s, but also as wide as it can be with the amount of yarn I have. I was conservative with Rachel’s test knit to make sure the deeper shawl would be wide enough with about 400 yards of yarn, even though the Cashy Lite was 495 yards.

How do you know if you should make the wider, shallower shawl, or the narrower, deeper shawl? Part of it depends on how you like to wear your shawl.

If you have about 400 yards of yarn, your deeper shawl will probably be most comfortable worn centered on your back. The ends don’t provide a lot of overlap for wearing this like a scarf. Rachel’s shawl took 390 yards at 6 st/inch.

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If you use those 400 yards to make a shallower shawl, you’ll get more overlap at the ends.

If you have 450 yards or more, the shallower shawl will be super wide like my prototype. This one took 455 yards at 5 st/inch. (I’m planning to aim for 5.5 or 6 st/inch next time, for a slightly firmer fabric.)

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It’s luxuriously wrappable, but I don’t know that I’d wear it centered on my back. Maybe if I were taller…

I’m planning to split the difference this time and go deep *and* wide. How?

The pattern instructions tell you how many repeats wide to make your shawl, but you can easily customize this for the amount of yarn you have. This is because the shawl is knit from side to side. You start at the right end, increase towards the center back, and then decrease to the left end. With a little math, you can easily adjust the size of your shawl without fear of running out of yarn.

You’ll need a kitchen scale, one of my favorite knitting tools. Weigh your yarn before you begin. Half of this yarn will go to the increase section of your shawl, and half will go to the decrease section. Weigh your yarn after every 24 row repeat. (Weigh your yarn in grams, because it’s a more precise measure on the scale.) This will show you how much yarn each repeat takes. The amount increases gradually with each repeat, because you’re increasing the number of stitches with each repeat. You’ll need to figure in enough yarn for the center repeat, which has no increases or decreases, but the center repeat will weigh about as much as the repeat before and after it. When you are halfway through that center repeat, you need to have at least half your yarn left for the decreases! (You don’t really need to start weighing your yarn until the 7th repeat, but it doesn’t hurt to know the numbers.)

If you don’t want to do any figuring or customizing, go ahead and knit according to the pattern directions.

So, deep or shallow? What’s your Garland going to be? Beads? No beads? I’m going for beads! I like the bling, and the little bit of extra heft and drape they give the fabric.

I’m looking forward to getting my yarn, Knitted Wit’s Cashy Lite in Peacock. She’s dyeing today! Did you order yarn from Knitted Wit, or are you using your own? If you ordered from Lorajean, I’m tucking in a little goodie for you with your yarn.

KAL stitch markers

Looking forward to casting on, June 10!

Cast On Party June 10, and Bead Aid Winner

I am so looking forward to casting on for the Garland Shawl KAL. And I’m pleased to announce that we’re having a cast on party on June 10, from 5-7 p.m. (PDT) at Twisted in Portland. I’ll bring some wine and some munchies. Hope you can make it!

And if you’re not local, it’s a virtual cast on party, too. I’ll bring my iPad and see if we can use the chat function in the PDXKnitterati Ravelry group. I haven’t tried it yet, so it’s a whole new adventure.

Locals, let me know if you can make it. And everyone, please join us on Ravelry for ongoing conversation and let us know who you are, and what yarn you’re planning to cast on.

I’m using Knitted Wit’s Cashy Lite in Peacock. :swoon:

Don’t forget there’s a discount code for the KAL. If you don’t have a pattern yet, check the Garland pattern page for details. If you order just the pattern from me, there’s a $1 discount code through cast on day, June 10. If you order yarn through Knitted Wit by June 1, there’s a $2 discount code for the pattern. Only one more day to order from Knitted Wit! Due date is June 1, so she can get yarn dyed up for you in time for the June 10 cast on.

And! Drum roll please: The winner of the Bead Aids is Melinda, who said, “A BeadAid could make me enjoy the process which at the moment I don’t.” Melinda, I’m hoping this does the trick for you! It really helped me. Send me your snail mail addy and I’ll get it right out to you.

If you’re not Melinda, but you still want to try the Bead Aids, you can order them from Sarah, the maker, at her website. I know they’re also at Pearl Fiber Arts in Portland.

I’m not quite done with my Webfoot Shawl. But a blog post isn’t a blog post without a picture, so here’s one I found in my camera. I forgot to download it after my Orlando trip last month. I knew this view would be coming up, so I was at the ready with my camera!

Mount Hood

Mount Hood, on a slightly hazy day. Yes, I turned the camera on for 30 seconds, even though it was suppposed to be off. I’m such a rebel.

Back to my knitting!

From scarf to shawl: Filigree and Webfoot

I’ve been knitting, knitting, knitting. I re-figured the crescent shaping for Filigree so it can be a shawl in addition to the original scarf. It’s sweet.

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I had 22 grams (80 yards) of yarn left after this, and I wanted to see if I could tweak the design to use a little more of the yarn. There was enough to make it two repeats wider, but that same crescent shaping brought me perilously close to using the entire skein of yarn. I don’t want to be that close, because we all knit differently, and I don’t want you to run out of yarn just before finishing. Do-over! I ripped out the crescent shaping and changed the rate of decrease to make the curve just a little shallower. Both shawls are about the same depth at the center back. I finished with 18 grams (64 yards) of yarn left after this wider shawl. That’s the biggest I can get without making it shallower than I want.

ETA: Just cleaned out my knitting basket, and found a second bit of yarn left from the smaller shawl. It was really 32 grams (116 yards) of yarn leftover, which was why I wanted to make a larger version. I remembered it as being about 30 g left, but I didn’t see that extra bit when I went to weigh my leftovers to write this post. Carry on.

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The new Filigree pattern will have instructions for the scarf, the narrower shawl, and the wider shawl.

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Now I’m knitting a shawl version of Webfoot. I’m knitting the wider shawl for this pattern. Since the narrow and wide shawls are about the same depth and take close to the same amount of yarn, you may as well make it wider for better wrapping around yourself! But here’s my question: If you were purchasing the pattern, would you want the instructions for both shawls, even if there were no picture for the smaller shawl, in case you have a more limited amount of yarn? I really don’t want to knit a smaller one, but I’ll already have the numbers for it since it’s the same shaping as Filigree. Is it better to have more options, even when they’re not pictured?

I should be finished with both patterns next week. A few more photographs, and the patterns will be ready to roll. Remember, if you’ve purchased the previous Webfoot and Filigree Scarves pattern, you’ll receive both the Webfoot and Filigree shawl/scarf patterns as updates when I re-publish these as separate patterns.

And then we’re on to the cast on for the Garland KAL on June 10! How many of you KAL participants are local? Maybe we could have a knit together moment…

Don’t forget to leave a comment on this previous post if you want a chance to win a set of Bead Aids.

Just knitting over this holiday weekend. It’s rainy and cool. How about you?