Category Archives: KAL

Garland Shawl and Knit Along

Presenting my newest design, the Garland Shawl!

Garland is a crescent shaped shawl, knit from side to side. The lacy border is knit at the same time as the garter stitch body, which increases from one end to the center and then decreases to the other end. Optional beading along the leaves’ center veins adds sparkle and weight for drape. This shawl can be knit as a wide, shallow crescent, or a deeper, more traditionally shaped crescent. Knitter’s choice!

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The wider shawl is like a big hug. This one is knit in Spring Green, a special order color for the upcoming KAL.

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The narrower shawl sits comfortably on the shoulders when centered, and looks good at a jaunty angle, too. This one is knit in Golden Delicious, and was test knit by Rachel Nichols. Thank you, Rachel!

The shawls are knit with fingering weight yarn. I used Knitted Wit‘s Cashy Lite, a wonderfully squishy blend of 80% merino/10% cashmere/10% nylon, 495 yards/115g/4 oz. Charts and line by line instructions for the lace edging are included.

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To celebrate Garland’s release, Lorajean (Knitted Wit) and I are having a knitalong. Place yarn orders with Knitted Wit by June 1st; orders will ship June 5th in time for the June 10th cast on. You’ll receive one skein of Cashy Lite, 80/10/10 Merino/Cashmere/Nylon, 495 yards, and a coupon code for $2 off the pattern on Ravelry. Visit http://www.flickr.com/photos/knittedwit/sets/72157633152678746/ to see all the yarn colors available, write in the color name when checking out. If you want the same color I used for the wider shawl, ask for Spring Green. It’s not in the flickr set; it’s special for this project because I love it so much, I’ve convinced LJ that we should do it. It’s a great color, fresh and lively, and not too neon or acid. Think happy new growth green!

If you’d like to participate in the KAL with your own yarn, use the code GarlandKAL and you’ll receive $1 off your pattern purchase, now through June 10, 2013. Note: In order to use a coupon code, you need to go directly to the Garland Shawl pattern page on Ravelry to make your purchase.

Let’s knit! Leave a comment and let me know you’re in!

I’m Blocking in Sunshine, oh oh

Apologies to Katrina and the Waves. But that’s the song that popped into my head as I was blocking test knitter Rachel’s shawl this morning. Another gorgeous day here.

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Rachel’s is the Green Apple version lower in the picture. My original wider shallower prototype in Spring Green is above it.

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I met with Rachel at Pearl Fiber Arts last night for the pickup. Cindy, PFA’s owner, loves the extra length on the shallow version, but she’s a lot taller than I am! Photography is set for Monday. I was hoping to do both Garland and Filigree, but see where I am in my Filigree knitting?

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Frogged the whole thing and started over. I forgot one of my self-imposed rules for crescent shawls: I always want an odd number of repeats, so one motif will be at the center back. As I began working the crescent, I noticed that the center was *between* motifs. D’oh! Do you think I can be done and blocked by Monday afternoon? Knit like the wind!

I’m enjoying these Signature circular needles. The tips are nice and pointy, which is great for lace. The stitches flow smoothly over the join between cable and needle. I usually knit with wood, which is a bit more grippy, so I’m concentrating on not losing my stitches off these slick metal needles. The cable is more flexible than I’m used to; I may have to give magic loop one more try. All in all, it’s been an enjoyable experience, and I get to do it all over again on my frogged shawl. Good thing I’m having fun. The needles were a gift from Sarah when she was here in town. Sarah is one of the fastest, most prolific knitters I know. She’s very talented. I was floored by the gift, but I’m not giving them back!

What are your favorite needles?

Coming soon: Garland Shawl and KAL

Spring has arrived in PDX. The trees have gone through their pink and white blossomed glory, and are settling nicely into green. My knitting has, too.

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This is a sneak peek at Garland, my upcoming design. I was inspired by my awakening garden, and by Sivia Harding’s Sideways Lace Shawl Design class in March. Put the two together, and the result is a leafy lace border on a sideways crescent shawl. Optional beads along the leafy ribs add a bit of bling.

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I am so happy that I finally found the perfect use for this gorgeous skein of Cashy Lite from Knitted Wit. It had been through two previous design starts. The first was nearly done when I saw a nearly identical shawl at my LYS. The second will require two skeins, and I only had one of this very special color from Lorajean’s first CSY in 2011. Third time’s a charm! And the yarn has held up like a champ, even after two froggings.

The pattern is written and is going through a final test knit. I’m hoping to publish it next week after photographs. And best of all, Lorajean and I are planning a June KAL. I’ll have a discount coupon code for participants, and an extra special coupon code if you’re ordering yarn from Knitted Wit. More on that next week, when the pattern goes live.

Place orders by June 1st, orders will ship June 15th in time for the June 21st cast on. You’ll receive one skein of Cashy Lite, 80/10/10 Merino/Cashmere/Nylon, 495 yards. Visit http://www.flickr.com/photos/knittedwit/sets/72157633152678746/ to see all the yarn colors available, write in the color name when checking out. If you want the same color as mine, ask for Spring Green. It’s not in the flickr set; it’s special for this project because I love it so much, I’ve convinced LJ that we should do it. It’s a great color, fresh and lively, and not too neon or acid. Think happy new growth green!

I love the added sparkle that beads give to this design. They remind me of dewdrops on morning leaves. I started by using the crochet hook beading method that I learned from Sivia way back at the first Sock Summit. It’s pretty efficient, but I tend to split my yarn with the tiny crochet hook while pulling it through the bead about 20% of the time. My knit nite buddy Sarah sent over some of her new Bead Aids to try out. I am a convert! I have not split my yarn at all since moving to this new method. It’s a great tool, and I highly recommend it.

I’m looking forward to publishing the pattern next week. Do you want to knit along? Have you ever added beads to your knitting?

Winter Jam

Summer has always been jam season for me. A big boiling water bath canner, a hot kitchen, delightful summer fruits turning into jewel-like preserves to spread a little sunshine during the winter. But then I came across a recipe for Pear Cranberry Jam on the Food in Jars blog. Winter jam? Yes!

Not being one to leave well enough alone, I decided my jam needed some add-ins. This time, it’s cinnamon and bourbon. It turned out great.

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What? Your bourbon doesn’t wear a sweater? My son gave me this sweater for my Maker’s Mark bottle last year. See, this *is* a knitting blog!

Cranberry/Pear/Bourbon Jam

4 cups cored and chopped pears (I left the skins on)
4 cups fresh cranberries
3 cups sugar
1/2 lemon, juiced and zested
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup water
1/4 cup bourbon

Combine chopped pears, cranberries, sugar cinnamon, lemon juice and zest, and water in a large pot. Stir to combine and let it rest until the sugar has begun to dissolve, about 10 minutes.

Place the pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat simmer for 15-25 minutes or longer, stirring regularly, until it thickens. Add bourbon, and continue cooking until jam coats spoon without running off.

Ladle jam into prepared jars. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings and process jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Makes 5 half pints. (If you need more thorough instructions for processing, go to Food in Jars! I’m assuming that you know how to jam.)

This is delicious. The bourbon is subtle, but there, for a little winter warmth. If I do this again, I’ll add 1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger, too, for a little kick. (I put too much ginger in last summer’s plum jam, so I’d be conservative this time.) I actually doubled the recipe, so the pot was really full, and it took quite a while to cook down to a nice jammy consistency (probably about 40 minutes?), but when it started to coat the spoon nicely, I decided it was done. This was also the first time I’d made jam without using added pectin, and I liked the process. It took longer, but I could better see how the jam is going to set up.

The best part of this jam session? Vickie invited me to cook at her house, so she made rugelach cookies while I made jam, and then we had some time to knit and catch up, too. Her cat Olive was very helpful.

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Good things come in jars! I came home from the gym this morning, and Tammy had dropped off some goodies for me. I was overrun by gifts of citrus fruit last winter, and offered some to her because she wanted to make marmalade and citruscello. A perfect trade.

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Back to knitting…Don’t forget, the Silver and Gold Filigree KAL kicks off properly on Friday at Twisted, or right now on the blog and Ravelry. Come knit with me! When we’re done, I’ll have a random drawing for a skein of fingering weight yarn as a prize. Finish a Filigree or Webfoot scarf by December 25, and you’ll be in the drawing.

What’s cooking at your house?

Silver and Gold…Filigree KAL

The holidays are fast approaching, so I’m having a Silver and Gold Filigree KAL during December. My Filigree scarf is a quick and easy project using one skein of fingering weight yarn (about 350 yards), perfect for gift knitting, or an accessory for yourself.

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(I just finished this one.)

Why silver and gold? I wanted the KAL to be festive for holiday knitting. I was thinking of Filigree, and metal, and suddenly “Silver and Gold” was running through my head. Do you remember this song that Burl Ives sang on the children’s classic “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer?”

Now it’s running through your head, too. You don’t have to knit in silver or gold if you don’t want to; any color will do. Whatever makes you happy.

I asked Adam, KAL master at Twisted, if I could do a Filigree KAL there, and he thought Filigree would be perfect for their Selfless Knitting theme during December. If you want to knit along in person with me, the KAL runs on Friday evenings from 5-8 p.m. at Twisted. I’ll be there tonight just to say hi, but beginning December 7 I’ll be knitting my Filigree there.

I’m using Knitted Wit‘s Shine merino/tencel yarn, color Moon Shadow. Looks like silver to me!

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Are you interested in knitting along with Filigree? You can knit along and comment and/or ask questions through the blog, my Facebook page, my Ravelry group, or in person at Twisted. To further entice you, I’m having a sale on the pattern through Ravelry: Use the coupon code silverandgold for $1 off the pattern through December 24. Here’s a direct link for order plus coupon if that’s easier for you.

I’ll have a prize drawing for KAL finishers at the end of December. Come join in the fun! It’s an easy and intuitive knit, and a lovely gift.

A very fine Saturday at Sock Summit

Saturday was my favorite day at Sock Summit. It began with a delivery of more Zen Rain and Pacific shawl patterns to the Knitted Wit booth. Running out of patterns and needing more is a very good thing.

I then headed to Anna Zilboorg’s lecture on The Deeper Meaning of Sock Knitting. I could listen to Anna talk about anything; she’s warm and witty and wise. Some of her remarks: Sock knitting is intensely personal; once you know how to make a sock, you can put your favorite stitch pattern on it. Knitting is cooperative rather than competitive, and cooperation creates love, not envy. It is not hierarchical; anyone can knit a sock. We make necessary things beautiful. Knitting can be a spiritual exercise; we do it because we are searching for happiness, and knitting makes us happy.

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After the lecture, I showed her the Turkish socks that I made in 1997. I had taken a color knitting class with her at Stitches that year, and she taught me to carry two colors in my right hand. (Video tutorial here, if you want to know how to do it, too.) These are the socks I was working on then. They’re thick and warm, perfect slipper or bed socks. As she did 14 years ago, she commented on the pattern and background colors (she sees pink as the pattern; I see it as the background). She also signed my copy of her book, Fancy Feet. I was thrilled!

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I gave her my new Lantern Moon sheep tape measure (Lady Baa-Baa’s replacement). She seemed pretty pleased with it, having talked about “the sheep people” during her lecture. (That would be the knitters.) And Tina brought her striped sock cookies!

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Meeting Anna again just made my day. But there was more fun ahead. I went to the marketplace to stand in line. Rachel was first!

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What were we waiting for? A free preview copy of Larissa Brown’s new book, My Grandmother’s Knitting. I had seen a preview copy of this at the pre-summit luncheon, and really wanted a copy NOW so I could spend more time with it. It is gorgeous. I’ll tell you more about it in another post after I get a chance to sit down with it.

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Could my day get any better? Amazingly enough, yes! I had a PDXKnitterati meet-up in the Knitted Wit booth at noon. It was great to meet lots of people that I previously only knew online, including Stacy. Her international cat hats caught my attention several years ago, and I’ve been following her knit and food blog ever since.

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Pat from the UK brought both her Zen Rain and Pacific shawls!

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We had a Zen Rain photo op.

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These are some of the people who participated in the Zen Rain KAL, or test knit. I loved seeing all the versions of Zen Rain. Thank you, Lorajean, for hosting the meet-up!

I went home during the afternoon for a nap and skipped the flash mob. Too tired to even stay to watch it! But here it is, in case you need to know.

I gathered enough energy to help Glenna celebrate her birthday that evening! She finished her Peacock Feathers Shawl the day before and blocked it on the hotel bed.

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I also met Meg, who was knitting her wedding veil at the last Sock Summit, and had some of the teachers knit on it then, too. She brought it along to this Sock Summit.

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So why was this my favorite day? I think because of all the personal interaction. I’ve been enjoying my classes, but meeting up with people I’ve known from blogs and previous real life meetings is the icing on the cake!

If you came to Sock Summit, what was your favorite thing that made it special for you?

Zen Rain KAL done; time to celebrate!

The Zen Rain KAL is done! Thanks for knitting along. I look forward to seeing several of these at Sock Summit on Saturday! I’m having a meet-up in the Knitted Wit booth from noon to 1 p.m. on Saturday, with a Zen Rain photo op at 12:30 p.m.

I had a little giveaway drawing for KAL finishers on Ravelry. princessruffian wins a set of stitch markers made by moi (guess I should go make them!) and Alyssa wins a Lantern Moon needle case. Congrats!

What else is going on here? Lots and lots of this!

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I have five blueberry bushes, and each one puts out a gallon of blueberries. They all came ripe this week, and I’ve been picking, picking, picking. Mostly they go into the freezer for later use, but I’ve made two blueberry cobblers (recipe here) this week. One was for the piano & pinot party last night at my house. Beautiful music, lovely wines, and a plethora of desserts (cheesecake, caramel bourbon sauce, chocolate raspberry torte, butterscotch chip shortbread, chocolate dipped strawberries, and the aforementioned cobbler, with vanilla ice cream).

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The other cobbler went in a picnic to the Indigo Girls Concert at the zoo.

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Portland sparkles when the sun comes out!

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I spotted this person drop spindling behind me, and introduced myself.

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Her name is Sari, and she was spinning up some lovely fiber from Abstract Fiber. Sari will be at Sock Summit next week, too. She’s participating in the fleece to foot contest. Knitters and spinners are everywhere. Small world!

More ruffles

I love my blue ruffle tank that I finished last summer. It was perfect! And then I was a bit irked when I saw it in a recent family photo, and it was shorter than I wanted it to be, and not as flattering as it was last summer, fresh off the needles. (I had machine dried it per label instructions.) What’s a knitter to do?

Wash and re-block! I regained 1.5 inches in length, and it is once again perfect. But it also got me thinking about how much I love it, and wouldn’t it be nice to have one in a deep cherry red, too? So I went in search of yarn. The blue one is knit with Louet MerLin sport, a Merino wool/linen blend. I had a Mother’s Day gift certificate burning a hole in my pocket, but then I found out that my LYS doesn’t carry MerLin any more. They do have Euroflax Linen sport, which is the same weight and the yarn specified in the pattern, but a little bit different. It would have been so easy if I didn’t have to think about gauge this time around, or wondering what the difference in fiber content will do. It’s close, gauge-wise…so I’m just going to forge ahead. I’m too lazy to wash and block my gauge swatch. I’m jumping in, feet first! I’m going to knit it in the round, but I’m starting front and back knit back and forth so I can leave the bottom 2 inches unseamed at the sides.

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The Zen Rain KAL is going swimmingly! Come see the finished shawls in the PDXKnitterati Ravelry group. The KAL will wrap up July 21 (a week before Sock Summit), and I’m having a drawing for a couple of prizes, too. It’s not to late to join the KAL, because many of us are still knitting!

Blocking lace

I just finished my fourth(!) Zen Rain Shawlette; this one was for the Knitalong (Rav link). Actually, number 3 isn’t quite off the needles yet; I’m in the middle of the very long bind off. But I thought I’d walk you through blocking on blocking wires, if you haven’t done it before. Blocking is magic for lace! (Don’t weave in your yarn ends until after blocking. There’s going to be a lot of stretching going on.)

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.

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The garment is really saturated and stretchy at this point! 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.

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The next step is to thread the edges onto the blocking wires. I put the wires along the garter edges, going over and under the garter ridges. If you’re pinning out points, you run the wires through the points. This particular shawlette has a row of eyelets along the bottom, above the ruffle. A perfect place to thread blocking wires.

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If you have an especially long edge, you would use two wires to cover the length, but overlap the wires by an inch or so at the place where they meet. 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. I’m lucky to have a futon sofabed in the basement, so that’s where I block. There are also blocking mats that you can purchase specifically for this purpose, and I’ve seen knitters use foam interlocking alphabet blocks (a useful child’s toy!), too. I’ve also used a towel over my cardboard cutting board that I use for sewing, but cardboard eventually gets tatty after being pinned a bazillion times. (Please excuse the lighting in my basement. It’s a basement! I played with the colors post-processing, but this is the best I could get it to look.)

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

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This Rambouillet single bloomed a bit, and softened wonderfully after washing and blocking. I had two grams of yarn left when I was done. I knew it would be close! I’m a big fan of using my kitchen scale to keep track of how much yarn a row takes as I get close to the end of a project. I could have ended a row sooner if I needed to, but not a row later!

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Now to finish binding off Zen Rain #3, and then I get to block again! After that? Here’s my new project…I’ll tell you about it next time.

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Coming up for air…

It’s been graduation/guests/music chaos around here, but we’re finally getting back to normal.

Last week’s 18 rows of Zen Rain at graduation?

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Frogged. I made it to 24 rows while chaperoning the All Night Graduation Party, and realized I didn’t like how firm the fabric was. This yarn is single ply Rambouillet, and it’s interesting to knit with. It’s a bit thick/thin in places. It felt thinner than the yarn I was knitting with previously (Alpha B Luxe B, and I still need to finish binding that one off), but it knit up way more firmly on a size 6 needle. I was afraid it wouldn’t be loose enough to block out to the gossamer texture I want. Hence, the frog. I started over with a US 7 needle, and am much happier. Yesterday I was on row 44.

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And today I’m on the ruffle.

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My basement has been a blocking studio! I have a futon sofabed down there, and it’s great for blocking shawls. I can stab pins into it to hold the blocking wires, and it doesn’t hurt anything. It’s also away from the cat, so she doesn’t “help.” This week I blocked Lorajean’s Octavia shawl, and Christina’s Zen Rain.

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It was a busy music weekend, too. The Day Old Pastries sang in church. It was Pentecost, and we sang a new song; I wrote the lyrics and a friend wrote the music. Come Holy Spirit, Come.

I also wrote a song for the Teen for graduation, and sang it for him just before. It’s called Graduation Day. Caution: it’s really sentimental! Can you tell I’m having empty nester issues?

I think we’re caught up…